ATC150611: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport on its oversight visit to the Cross-Border Road Transport Agency (C-BRTA) and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) dated 2 June 2015
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT ON ITS OVERSIGHT VISIT TO THE CROSS-BORDER ROAD TRANSPORT AGENCY (C-BRTA) AND THE SOUTH AFRICAN MARITIME SAFETY AUTHORITY (SAMSA) DATED 2 JUNE 2015.
The Portfolio Committee on Transport, having undertaken an oversight visit to C-BRTA and SAMSA from 25 to 27 November 2014 reports as follows:
- OVERSIGHT VISIT TO THE CROSS-BORDER ROAD TRANSPORT AGENCY
The C-BRTA reported in meetings with the Committee that one of the central challenges faced by the entity pertained to the impasse that is preventing the free flow of cross-border passengers between South Africa and Lesotho. Other challenges identified were the resolution of the Lesotho/Free State passenger movement which resulted in non-adherence to the South African Customs Union (SACU) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
The Committee therefore conducted an oversight visit to C-BRTA on 26 November 2014. The objectives of the visit were to assess cross-border transport movements and border transport operations, specifically the cross-border transport operations between South Africa and Lesotho, in order for the Committee to, firstly, acquaint itself with cross-border transport operations and challenges and, secondly, to make recommendations on how to support compliance with the law in terms of cross-border movements. The Committee visited the Maseru and Ficksburg border posts to assess cross-border movement.
The delegation of the Committee consisted of Ms DP Magadzi (Chairperson), Mr SG Radebe (ANC), Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC), Mr MP Sibande (ANC), Ms P Boshielo (ANC),Mr M S de Freitas (DA), Mr CH Hunsinger (DA), Ms D Carter (Cope) and Mr TE Mulaudzi (EFF). The following support staff accompanied the delegation: Ms V Carelse (Committee Secretary), Dr S Ngesi (Committee Researcher) and Ms Z France (Committee Assistant).
1.2 Legislative mandate of the C-BRTA
The C-BRTA was established in terms of the Cross-Border Road Transport Agency Act (No. 4 of 1998) to:
- Advise the Minister of Transport on cross-border road transport policies;
- Improve the unimpeded flow of freight and passengers in the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) region;
- Introduce regulated competition in respect of cross-border road transport;
- Reduce operational constraints for the cross-border transport industry as a whole;
- Enhance and strengthen the capacity of the public sector in support of its strategicplanning, enabling and monitoring functions; and
Empower the cross-border road transport industry to maximise business opportunities and to regulate themselves incrementally to improve safety, security,
reliability, quality and efficiency of services.
The C-BRTA executes its mandate through five core functional areas which are as follows:
- Regulatory and Legal Services;
- Road Transport Inspectorate;
- Facilitation and Industry Development; and
- Strategic Support.
1.3 Background to the RSA/Lesotho cross-border conflict
During the visit, the Committee was briefed on the background to the RSA/Lesotho cross- border challenges by the Ministerial Task Team and the interventions made to resolve the conflict. The meeting in Ficksburg was attended by Task Team members, representatives of the Department of Transport and the office of the Free State MEC for Transport. Various taxi operators from Gauteng and the Free State also attended the meeting. The RSA/Lesotho taxi operator conflict started around 1999. The developments at the RSA/Lesotho border posed the following risks:
- Negative impact on trade and economic activity between Lesotho and South Africa;
- Uncontrollable levels of violence which place the lives of innocent commuters and government officials in danger; and
- Negative media exposure.
According to the Task team report, some operators did not embrace cross-border operations and argued that they did not have a share of that market. The contention of Free State taxi operators was that they were entitled to transporting passengers across the border who were travelling through the Free State province into other parts of South Africa. Incidents of conflict had been reported, where cross-border operators were not allowed to conduct cross-border operations between South Africa and Lesotho. The situation deteriorated further in June 2014. Various efforts were made to resolve the situation, but they were unsuccessful. In August 2010, the President of the RSA and the former Minister of Transport visited Lesotho where they received complaints from the Lesotho government on this untenable situation. In 2010, a task team was established in order to assess the situation and come up with proposals to resolve the conflicts.
Cross–border passenger movements between South Africa and neighbouring countries are regulated through international conventions and laws to which South Africa is a signatory. In terms of the agreements, an international passenger travelling between two destinations within the SACU area and the SADC region, must enjoy the right to travel in an uninterrupted manner from the point of origin of the trip to the point of destination without having to exchange vehicles. Some Free State taxi operators refuse to allow the normalisation of cross-border transport operations between South Africa and the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho.
1.4 Report presented by the Task team
In May 2013, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) mandated a new task team to develop a special dispensation model aimed at normalising cross-border operations. Various task team meetings and workshops were held between June 2013 and June 2014.The task team made presentations to various stakeholders: the NCOP, the Free State MEC for Police, Roads and Transport, cross-border operators (RSA) and the Minister of Transport (RSA). The task team developed a model to resolve the impassebased on all data collected. The model focused on the following key elements for success: restoration of law and order, implementation of verification outcomes, transition window, legislative review and special dispensation. The Task Team resolved the following:
- The restoration of law and order would be a top priority and should be implemented with immediate effect. An integrated law enforcement plan was developed and was launched in Ficksburg during Easter 2014.
- The double dippingpractice would stop with immediate effect. The practice of leased vehicles and shared registration would be discontinued. A moratorium would be applied to all aspiring entrants until the challenges were resolved. The process of verification was complete and recommendations were implemented. The practice of issuing permits to leased vehicles was stopped with effect from 1 August 2013. The agency continued to issue cross-border permits to qualifying applicants.
- The transition window involves legislating a special regime to allow operators that purport to do cross-border road transport operations to apply for the correct permit authority.
- There was a need for a legislative review to synchronise the C-BRTA Act, the National Land Transport Act (No. 5 of 2009) (NLTA) and other relevant pieces of legislation.
- The Minister should delegate powers to the Premier to declare special emergency measures, where necessary.
On 3 June 2014, Lesotho operators were barred from crossing the Maseru border to South Africa. The aggrieved operators allowed pedestrians and school children to cross the border from the Republic to the Kingdom but not vice versa. The Maseru Bridge Port Coordinator convened a meeting on the evening of 3 June 2014 which was attended by the Minister and Deputy Minister of Transport and Home Affairs (Lesotho), border officials from both countries and Lesotho cross-border operators to normalise the flow of traffic. On 4 June 2014, a meeting was held between the executive management from the South African Department of Transport (Roads), C-BRTA, the South African High Commissioner to the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Lesotho Permanent Secretary and other stakeholders to understand developments that led to the impasse. Operators were later invited to join the meeting to discuss the problems.
The meeting resolved to establish a working group consisting of representatives of the Lesotho operators, RSA/Lesotho cross-border operators and those from Free State border towns associations. The working group met on 5 June 2014 but the meeting reached a deadlock and some operators and officials staged a walk out. A Task Team progress meeting was held on 10 June 2014 where it was resolved that all cross-border operations be suspended with immediate effect, while a solution was being sought.
Various reports were received from cross-border operators indicating that their vehicles were stopped by Provincial Traffic officials and the South African Police Service (SAPS) officials and ordered to offload passengers. Passengers are offloaded at the mouth of the border on both sides so that they could walk across and catch local taxis to various destinations. Only scholar transport ferrying children from Lesotho to South Africa was allowed. In Caledonspoort, operators were allowed to cross the border with passengers to Lesotho, but not from Lesotho.
On 19 June 2014, the Minister of Transport visited Lesotho where she had a meeting with her Lesotho counterpart. The meeting resolved that the original Task Team be re-established as a National Ministerial Task Team. The Task Team would include representatives from the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho and the CBRTA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to consult all provincial transport MECs. The purpose of engagements was to establish a country wide perspective, prevent possible spill overs and establish a national approach on finding solutions.
1.5 Committee Observations
During discussions, the Committee observed the following:
1.5.1 Legitimate cross-border operators needed to conduct their business without hindrance. The rule of law must prevail and legitimate cross-border permit holders must be allowed to operate as per the agreements.
1.5.2 Due to time constraints, the Committee could not fully engage with operators and the Task Team on the cross-border challenges. An opportunity would be provided for operators to express concerns/grievances about the current situation so that a solution to the impasse could be found. Discussions should include the relevant government departments and the Free State MEC for Police, Roads and Transport.
1.5.3 There was a need to harmonise regulatory frameworks between the C-BRTA system and provincial licencing authorities.
1.5.4 There should be engagement with the Department of Transport on the challenges raised by the C-BRTA on the implementation of the SADC MOU.
During its site visit to the controlled areas at the Ficksburg and Maseru border posts, the Committee noted the following:
1.5.5 At the Ficksburg and Maseru border posts, passengers had to disembark from taxis on the side of the border and embark on the other side. Passengers were offloaded at the mouth of the border on both sides and would walk across and catch local taxis to various destinations.This was contrary to the terms of the agreements that an international passenger travelling between two destinations within the SACU area and the SADC region, must enjoy the right to travel in an uninterrupted manner from the point of origin of the trip to the point of destination, without having to exchange vehicles.
1.5.6 Long-distance trucks parked on the road leading to the entrance of the border posts and not in waiting bays, and as a result were blocking traffic at border posts. The Committee would follow up with SANRAL on the matter.
The Committee recommends that the Minister of Transportshould ensure the following:
- That the Department conduct a legislative review to synchronise the Cross-Border Road Traffic Act with the National Land Traffic Act. The mandate of the C-BRTA needs to be activated to enable seamless and efficient passenger and freight logistics in the cross-border space.The Department should attach timeframes to the synchronising of the pieces of legislation and this should be communicated to the Committee within 90 days of the adoption of the report by the House.
- That Bilateral Agreements are reviewed and that the implementation of the SADC Protocol is monitored. The Committee agreed with the C-BRTA on the need for protection of South African operators in regard to conditions applied in neighbouring countries.The Committee further noted the challenges regarding the coordination of role players in terms of cross-border operations and would engage with the relevant role-players on policy and regulatory matters in order to strengthen partnerships in the border environment.
- That the branch responsible for Roads in the Department ensure that agreements entered into between Lesotho and South Africa are adhered to.
- That the Department keeps the Committee abreast on a quarterly basis of Lesotho/Free State cross-border developments.
- That the Free State Legislature should act on the findings of the Court judgements related to Lesotho/RSA cross-border challenges.
In conclusion, the Committee undertook to engage with the Department of Transport and the C-BRTA on how to improve the agency’s mandate.
- OVERSIGHT VISIT TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN MARITIME SAFETY AUTHORITY (SAMSA)
In 2013, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) coordinated a study on the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans. This study demonstrated the economic potential of South Africa’s marine resources which showed that South Africa’s oceans could generate an estimated GDP contribution of R129 to R177 billion by 2033. Jobs linked to the oceans economy could rise to 0.8-1.0 million, more than double the level in 2010. The growth in GDP and job creation potential of the oceans was driven by ninesectors: marine transport and manufacturing, tourism, offshore oil and gas, construction, renewable energy, fisheries and aquaculture, communication, desalination, and marine protection services. The marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration, aquaculture and marine protection services and ocean governance sectors were prioritised.
The Committee undertook an oversight visit to SAMSA on 27 November 2014 to engage with it on its strategic objectives and on how it would contribute to Operation Phakisa.
2.2 Mandate of SAMSA
The South African Maritime SafetyAuthority (SAMSA) was established on 1 April 1998 under the SAMSA Act (No. 5 of 1998). SAMSA’s mandate is:
- To ensure safety of life and property at sea;
- To prevent and combat pollution from ships in the marine environment; and
- To promote the Republic’s maritime interests.
SAMSA has also been charged with the responsibility of executing the administration of the Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessel Safety) Regulation, 2007, as amended (the Regulation). The Regulation extends SAMSA’s core mandate to include inland waterways (only waterways accessible to the public) within the Republic to ensure boating safety on our waters. It further implementsand executes the Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) of vessels along the South African coastline. The long-range vessel monitoring system assists in securing South Africa’s coastal waters in the midst of the rising lawlessness at sea, with particular reference to the worrying scourge of pirate attacks along the east coast of Africa.
2.3 Briefing on SAMSA’s strategic objectives
For 2014/15, SAMSA aimed to implement and comply with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code. Its other strategic initiatives are to support South Africa in curbing illegal unregulated and unreported fishing in our waters, strengthen integrated Maritime Security Governance and Maritime Security Technology capability, as well as the effective management of pre-arrival notifications by ships when entering South African waters. With regards to its Maritime Environmental Protection Programme, it will implement the ratified MARPOL annexures IV and VI and develop and implement strategies to respond to marine pollution incidents through the National Maritime Oil Spill Contingency Plan.
The CEO and the staff of SAMSA briefed the Committee on the following programmes of SAMSA as set out in its Strategic Plan: the Port State Inspection Improvement Initiative, the Flag State Inspection Improvement Initiative, Marine Safety Awareness Programmes and inland waterways boating safety. The Committee was further briefed on the strategic initiative of SAMSA to reduce marine pollution and protect the marine environment and to develop South Africa’s maritime domain awareness and emergency response capacity. SAMSA was also aiming to reduce the number of accidents and incidents in the maritime environment and enforcecompliance with maritime regulation and legislation.
SAMSA managed to neutralise environmental hazards and avert the impact of maritime incidents on the coastline. It trained 363 cadets after an original target of training of 240 cadets. A total of 93 unemployed engineering graduates were converted to marine engineers. The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) passed 12 181 pre-arrival messages from ships and a total of 10 852 flag state survey activities and 302 port state inspections were conducted.
There has been no approval of SAMSA tariff adjustments since 2009. The entire capacity to respond to incidents lies outside the control of SAMSA. This includes the emergency tug, pollution controls vessels and a helicopter. This constrained the effectiveness of maritime safety and pollution capacity of SAMSA. An estimated total of R1.5 billion was required for salvage tugs. An estimated R71 million was underfunded since 2009 for the sea watch and response operations.
The maritime industry and SAMSA were faced with diminished technical skills capacity due to an aging workforce that impactednegatively on the industry and on SAMSA. More funding was needed for the National Cadetship Programme to address the skills gap in maritime technical skills.Outdated and slow processing of legislation and the absence of a national maritime transport policy had a negative impact on SAMSA. The communication infrastructure (sea watch and response) was obsolete and exposed the country to security risks which could lead to litigation costing billions of rands.
2.4 Interventions requested from the Committee
The CEO of SAMSA highlighted to following areas of intervention needed from the Committee:
2.4.1 There was a delay in the processing of legislation. SAMSA requested that the Committee incorporate a special tracking initiative on outstanding maritime legislation into the Committee Programme.
2.4.2 Support was needed from the Committee for the implementation of the strategic initiative to develop South Africa’s Maritime Domain Awareness and Emergency response capability.
2.4.3 SAMSA needed Committee support to finalise the National Maritime Transport Policy.
2.4.4 SAMSA further requested the Committee to assist it in creating awareness amongdomestic and international communities onthe implementation of the South Africa Ship Registration Strategic Initiative.
2.5 Committee Observations
During discussions, the Committee observed the following:
2.5.1 Delays in processing legislation and the absence of a National Maritime Policy of South Africa wereimpacting negatively on the mandate of SAMSA.
2.5.2 The National Maritime Policy needed to be finalised to address the lack of South African registered vessels.
2.5.3 The Committee noted SAMSA’s skills development initiatives, but noted that more vessels were required for sea training.
The Committee recommends that the Minister of Transport:
3.1 Ensure that the Department of Transport partners with SAMSA to finalise the National Maritime Policy for South Africa within 90 days of the adoption of the report by the House given the urgency of the policy. The Department should brief the Committee on a quarterly basis regarding the development of the policy.
3.2 Process outstanding maritime legislation as a matter of urgency. The Department would berequired to brief the Committee on a quarterly basis on the amendment of legislation.
3.3 Engage with the Department on making additional funding available for SAMSA’sSea Watch and Response operations.
Report to be considered.
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