ATC210601: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport on an Oversight visit to the Gauteng and Mpumalanga Provinces, Dated12 May 2021
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport on an Oversight visit to the Gauteng and Mpumalanga Provinces, Dated12 May 2021
The Portfolio Committee on Transport (“the Committee”), having undertaken an oversight visit to Gauteng and Mpumalanga from 26 to28 November 2020, reports as follows:
- Mr MJ Zwane, MP (Leader of the Delegation)
- Ms MM Ramadwa, MP
- Ms F Khumalo, MP
- Mr LN Mangcu, MP
- M B Yabo, MP
- Mr LE McDonald, MP
- Mr TB Mabhena, MP
- Mr M Chabangu, MP
- Mr K Sithole, MP
- Mr P Mey, MP
STAFF ACCOMPANYING THE DELEGATION
1. Ms N Matinise – Stand-in Committee Secretary; and
2. Ms P Mahlathi – Committee Assistant.
The purpose of the visit was to gather insight into the progress made to date, pertaining to the Moloto Corridor Project with emphasis on the Rail Corridor portion of the project, which comprised of the proposed budget, expenditure to date (by all Provincial Departments, SANRAL and PRASA), proposed project timelines and completion dates as well as outcomes of discussions with the National Treasury on the viability of the Moloto Rail Corridor. The Department of Transport had to also report on how much funding was specifically spent on feasibility studieslinked to this project to date and furnish the Committee with an update on a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the China Communications Construction Company to build the Moloto Rail Development Corridor.
As part of the visit, the Committee paid homage to His Majesty, King Makhosonke II of the Ndebele tribe to determine the views of the community regarding the project from the point of view of the traditional leadership.
The Committee further needed to focus on the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA) effectiveness to execute its mandate, how the entity’s operations had been affected by the national lockdown due to Covid-19 and other pre-existing challenges fuelled by administrative anomalies. Given the status of the entity, the Committee wanted to determine how the newly appointed PRASA Board would implement its turnaround strategy to ensure that the entity reclaims its former glory.
- MANDATES AND FUNCTIONS
- The Mandate of the Department of Transport
The Department of Transport (“the Department” or DoT) is responsible for the legislation and policies for rail, pipelines, roads, airports, harbours, and the intermodal operations of public transport and freight.
It is also responsible for conducting sector research, formulating legislation and policy to set the strategic direction of subsectors, assigning responsibilities to public entities, regulating through setting norms and standards, and monitoring implementation.
Chapter 4 of the National Development Plan (NDP) calls for the development of economic infrastructure as the foundation of social and economic development. This call is given action by Outcome 6 (an efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure network) of government’s 2014-2019 Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), which is directly aligned with the work of the Department.
- The Mandate of the Portfolio Committee onTransport
The prime mandate of the Committee is governed by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (“the Constitution”), in respect of its legislative and oversight responsibilities as public representatives. It is required to consider legislation referred to it and consider all matters referred to it in terms of the Constitution, the Rules of the National Assembly (NA) or resolutions of the House. It is also required to respond to matters referred to it by Government within its mandate. In addition, the Committee is entrusted with considering the budgets, Strategic Plans, Annual Performance Plans (APPs) and the Annual Reports of the Department and entities that fall within the transport portfolio.
Moreover, the Committee conducts oversight over the Minister of Transport as the executive authority that provides policy leadership over the programmatic deliverables of the Department and its entities. Much of the Committee’s oversight work focuses on how the Director-General (DG) leads the departmental administration to interpret the policy, turn it into programmed plans using the allocated budget to implement the policies as per the mandate of the Department.
- SITE VISIT AND BRIEFINGS
- The site visits (27 – 28 November 2020)
- Moloto Corridor Project: The King’s Cluster, KwaMhlanga, kwaNdebele
On Friday, 28 November 2020, the Committee visited His Majesty, King Makhosonke II’s cluster in the Thembisile Hani Local Municipality, Nkangala District Municipality, Mpumalanga. The delegation was well received.
The overarching issues that the King highlighted were as follows:
- The Moloto Rail Corridor was meant to be a solution to the Moloto Road traffic and accident challenges that has been experienced by the community over a long period of time, which still affects them to date.
- In the King’s opinion, the Portfolio Committee on Transport failed to hold the Executive to account for the past 14 years since the announcement of the intention to commence with the project.
- The project was not only meant to curb the challenges as outlined above but to also ensure that there is development in the area, which in turn would create more employment opportunities and entrepreneurial economic activity for the majority of the people of KwaMhlanga, particularly the youth and other societal vulnerable groups.
- Moloto Corridor Project: KwaMhlanga Government Complex
The Committee met with the KwaMhlanga Moloto Rail Corridor community representatives,the Department, South African National Roads Agency(SANRAL) and PRASA. The purpose of the meeting was to receive presentations from:
- The Department on progress with the Moloto Corridor Project, which comprised of the proposed budget, expenditure to date (by all Provincial Departments, SANRAL and PRASA), proposed project timeline and completion dates, as well as the outcome of discussions with the National Treasury onthe viability of the Moloto Rail Corridor;
- The Department on how much funding was specifically spent on feasibility studies for the rail corridor to date;
- The Department and PRASA on the update regarding the signed MoU with China Communications Construction Company to build the Moloto Rail Development Corridor andhow far the process has since gone; and
- The Moloto Rail Corridor community representatives on their challenges regarding the delays in the implementation of the project and the impact the delays had in the lives and development of the community of KwaMhlanga.
Due to the nature of the gathering and emotions observed while assessing the atmosphere at the venue, a decision was taken to postpone the presentations from the Department, SANRAL and PRASA and rather focus on the inputs from the community representatives. The following table illustrates the spectrum of attendance per stakeholder:
Table 1: Stakeholder attendance
Department of Transport
Office of the Public Protector
Office of the Auditor General
MEC of Public Works & Transport (Mpumalanga)
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Transport (Mpumalanga Legislature)
Deputy Mayor: Elias Motsoaledi Local Municipality
Contralesa Nkangala Region
South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO)
Moloto Rail concerned citizens
Action SA Thembisile Hani branch
Afrikans’ Bikers council
National Taxi Alliance (NTA)
Pretoria Taxi Industry (PTI)
Communal property association
KwaMhlanga disabled people in business association (formed by people who were victims of Moloto road accidents)
- Deliberations and observations
The leaders of community organisations made inputs and highlighted various issues surrounding the matter at hand. Most importantly, they registered their deep frustration in the government for not adhering to the assurance it gave to the people of KwaMhlanga. The affliction exhibited during the presentation painted a clear picture of how disgruntled the community had been for the past few years regarding this issue. This was due to a calamitous loss of many lives on the Moloto Road and lack of development in their area; purported by the failure of government to implement the Moloto Rail Corridor project.
A delegation of the youth of KwaMhlanga who organised themselves as the “Moloto Rail Concerned Citizens”reportedly went to the Union Buildings to submit a memorandum of concerns to the President of the Republic of South Africa, hoping to also have an interpersonal meeting to discuss imperative solutions that would lead to the implementation of the project. Unfortunately, the delegation had been camping at the Union Buildings for 79 days and had not been able to secure a meeting with the President nor any official from the office of the Presidency at the time of the Committee oversight visit. They reported the anguish they suffered at the hands of the South African Police Services (SAPS), where they were allegedly harassed and shot at with rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse the group from their protest base.
220.127.116.11 Key issues that emerged during the session:
- The purpose of Moloto Rail Concerned Citizens (MRCC) is to ensure that the project is implemented because, in their view, it would help curb the road accidents on the Moloto Road and enhance community development, which has been a request for the past 26 years.
- The first request for the construction of a railway corridor was allegedly made in 1984 and was meant to commence during the 2006/7 financial year as per the former president’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).
- The Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature representativesreported that a funding request for the Moloto Rail Corridor was submitted to the National Treasury, so that the project can finally commence.
- According to views presented, the Department and PRASA were the two institutions that failed to execute the project.
- It was also learnt that the project was at some point removed from the Presidential Infrastructure Projects (PIPs), which was speculated as one of the reasons why it could not commence.
- According to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature representatives, feasibility studies were done and approved but the national Department stated that there were no funds available to execute the project.
- It was reported that an estimate of 40 people lose their lives from car accidents on Moloto Road per month, which leaves many child-headed families and increases the burden on the social development indigent register because the road is mostly used by commuters who travel every day to Tshwane to earn a living.
- Traditional leaders also took a stance to fight for the Moloto Rail Corridor project to take off.
- The Councillors felt that they were being set up against their own communities and as such, would like to have a reportcontainingclear timelines upon which the project will be implemented. They had included the project in their Integrated Development Plan (IDP) for implementation, but due to lack of clarity in terms of implementation, were coerced to remove it from the plan.
- The community has never received any update on the progress of the project from the Mpumalanga Provincial Government until the Committee’s oversight visit.
- The community was and still is dissatisfied about the non-responsiveness of Parliament to issues raised by the community since the Portfolio Committeelast visited the area in 2007.
- The Committee committed to convene a meeting with all relevant stakeholders and report back to KwaMhlanga by the end of March 2021or as soon as the Committee Programme allows this to be done.
18.104.22.168 The community demands
The following demands were received from the Community representatives:
- The President must reinstate the project on the list of PIPs.
- The Committee must inform the President that the project must be implemented with immediate effect.
- Funds must be made available for the project immediately.
- Timelines upon which the project will be implemented must be clearly stated.
- The Public Protector and Auditor-General should hold the Department Director Generals and PRASA Board Members who were mandated with the responsibility of implementing the project accountable.
- Gauteng Train Stations Site Visits
- Koedoespoort Train Station
The Committee visited the Koedoespoort Train Station, situated at Kilner Park, Tshwane and met with commuters to gather insight on their everyday challenges with train operations. It further met with the Station Manager and Regional Operations Manager from PRASA.
- Mamelodi Gardens Train Station
The Committee visited the Mamelodi Gardens Train Station, situated in Mamelodi, Tshwane and met with the PRASA officials.
- PRASA (28 November 2020)
On day two of the visit, the Committee met with the PRASA Board and Senior Officials at the PRASA House in Tshwane. It must be noted that only 3 of the board members were present at the meeting.
22.214.171.124 Input from the Chairperson of the Board
The newly elected Board of PRASA would like to focus on the following areas when implementing the turnaround strategy in order to restore the image of the entity:
- Tightening security;
- Focus on the current skills gap; and
- Increase expenditure capacity.
The damage to PRASA infrastructure is extensive due to security shortages, implying that there will be budget needed to be allocated for this kind of work.
4.1 There is a need to get finality from the Department and National Treasury on whether the Moloto Rail Corridor Project will be revived.
4.2 There is a need to have continuous engagements with the community affected by the Moloto Corridor Project to keep them updated on progress.
4.3 The Committee undertook to convene a meeting with all relevant stakeholders regarding the Moloto Rail Corridor and report back to the community of KwaMhlanga by the end of March 2021 or as soon as the Committee received the report and briefing from the Department and National Treasury. Once this is received, the Committee will Programme a session with the community representatives to report back to the community on the Moloto Rail Project.
4.4 During the PRASA train station visits, it was evident to members that the surroundings of the stations were overgrown with vegetation which made it unsafe for commuters to walk to the station, rail reserves were occupied by persons not authorised to do so, there were service delays linked to cable theft, there was no reliable train servicing the routes and the Committee was told that the diesel locomotive that was meant to serve the line was not available and the officials present could not indicate when it would be available. Further thereto, commuters were not able to purchase monthly or weekly tickets which would be cheaper and were forced to purchase single trip tickets that were more expensive. Commuters informed the Committee that, despite the commuters arriving before the train,on some occasions they are prevented for queuing for tickets as there was only one cubicle available, if the train arrived, it was not stopping at or near their destination and commuters had to resort to walking to work due to the unreliability of the service.
4.5 With regard to safety measures at PRASA train stations, there was no clarity provided regarding the actual number of new security officers appointed by PRASA. There was also no clarity provided on questions related to how many of these officers were armed or how many of them had uniforms and were ready for deployment. Based on what could be observed by members, there were no security cameras operational at train stations.
4.6 The Committee would schedule a follow-up site visit as soon as its programme allows to determine whether its concerns were addressed.
Given the observations that emerged from the deliberations and site visits, the Committee recommended that the Minister of Transport should ensure that:
5.1 The Department submit a comprehensive written report to the Committee on the matters raised during the oversight visit regarding the Moloto Corridor Project with specific emphasis on the Moloto Rail Corridor.This report must be submitted to the Committee within 30 days of adoption of this reportby the National Assembly.
5.2 PRASA submit a comprehensive written report to the Committee on the matters raised during the oversight visit regarding the conditions at stations, security concerns (both related to appointments and infrastructure), returning of operations at stations that seized operations during Covid-19 level 5 and which are still not returned to full operation, and progress made in operations since the new Board appointment. This report must be submitted to the Committee within 30 days of adoption of this reportby the National Assembly.
The provision of safe, reliable, affordable and efficient public transport to all citizens of South Africa is crucial. As part of its oversight responsibilities, Parliament, through the work of this Committee, has to hold the executive authority accountable. Therefore, Parliament should use its constitutional powers to continue to monitor that the Minister of Transport, the Department, Provincial Departments involved in the Moloto Corridor Project, PRASA, SANRAL as well as local municipalities linked to the rail and Moloto Corridor Projects implement the proposedrecommendations of this report.
Report to be considered.
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