Tag Archive | portfolio committee on transport

AARTO traffic offences bill on its way

AARTO licence demerit system studied 

…. In what has been a legislative marathon, the update of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) has now reached a stage where Parliament has called for yet further consultation with the public. It requires on report on the situation with the e-Natis system, with provider Tasima and to hear from bus fleet owners.

The first draft of the Bill was tabled before the Portfolio Committee of Transport as far back as 2015. Now a stage has been reached where the principle has been agreed to but whether it is practical or possible within existing structures is now the issue.  The next meeting is May 28

Owners & drivers

At the last round of hearings on the Bill after tabling, it was car hire owners and the South African National Taxi Owners Council (SANTACO) who had the most to say. The car hire association told MPs that developments in the pilot areas had reached a stage where hirers had made several vehicles “unlicenceable” because of a build-up of demerit points.

There followed unpractical administration problems for the owner, which they said was not the intention of the law.
Taxi operators, who will need to make returns on employed drivers, said that already had many problems when they found themselves unknowingly registering drivers with false driving details and addresses and which was culpable, resulting in fines for the owner plus receiving a double penalty of receiving demerit points.

Starting from zero

A Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) is now to be formed which will implement the AARTO system in the next financial year, each motorist starting with zero points reaching a maximum permissible twelve points when the licence will be suspended for 3 month.

The plan now, therefore, is for the new AARTO system to start in January 2018 on a national basis learning from pilots run in Johannesburg and Tshwane.

There are two systems involved. One, the most commonly used, is for driver/owners, the other is for owners who hire drivers, the latter having a demerit merit system based on regulations regarding the condition of the vehicle and driver registration.

The proposed Bill says its aims are to “Strengthen compliance with road traffic laws and payment of traffic fines.”

Black book

The RTIA will run a national road traffic offences register (on a similar basis to the sexual offences register) centralizing all driver infringements and offences, presumably under the umbrella of the centralised e-Natis system.

The Bill describes the circumstances under which offenders are served with a warrant issued by a magistrate’s court. Now clarified in the most recent portfolio committee meeting is the use of registered mail; the necessity to allow for time for postal services to execute delivery and for rehabilitation programmes for habitual infringers and continuous offenders.

DOT told parliamentarians that they have struck a deal with the SA Post Office whereby the issuing authority, whether local or municipal, will be charged a rate of R7.80 for a registered delivery.

Against

Detractors of the Bill have been the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who say the demerit system will put many companies out of business and will result in “millions of vehicles” being taken off the roads causing labour issues.

AfriForum has brought an urgent application to the High Court. AfriForum’s legal consultant, Willie Spies, told parliamentarians that in their view it would be unconstitutional for a citizen to have to pay to exercise one’s rights, this being their interpretation of the AARTO system.

Spies stated that in many cases offenders will be punished twice for the same offence, this being by both by the courts and by the demerit system. “Nobody can be guilty twice”, he said and added that nobody should be punished by demerit system “when they have done the right thing by paying.”

Spies also said that the Bill “manages to introduce 2,055 new offences but nobody is being punished for reckless or negligent driving which is the main cause of death on the roads.”

At the coalface

The pilot system undertaken along the AARTO lines in Johannesburg and Tshwane was not apparently too successful, as observed by one metro police officer in making a report to the Portfolio Committee.

He said that offenders, when served with a ticket, seemed little concerned that the result would be that they were to be served with a warrant, since experience told them that the system failed to work and there was no judicial follow up if notices were ignored.

The complaining officer said that this particularly applied in the case of parking infringements.

A survey undertaken by the AA and with assistance from fuel company BP was quoted in detail to parliamentarians a number of times, highlighting that there was a vast difference in outcomes between minor infringements such as parking issues; driving through orange or red robot lights; not obeying yield signs and the more serious infringements of drunken and negligent driving. It was hoped, the report concluded, that the de-merit system would reflect this difference.

Bad culture

The survey results also indicated that 76% of South African drivers commit some sort of traffic offence on a regular or even daily basis indicating a systemic disregard of road traffic laws in SA. AA as a result appealed for early implementation of a demerit system to improve road safety.

The view of many parties to the hearings was that to include parking infringements in terms of the AARTO system would have little effect in improving upon road safety. AARTO, later in question time, qualified this by saying that municipalities and local councils face the costs of enforcement of any system and this had to be underwritten with multiple revenue sources, whether parking infringements or not.

DOT confirmed in the meeting that it had not only signed an agreement with the SA Post Office for all registered mail to be delivered at R7.80 a letter but this would apply to all the approximately 300 local councils and municipalities

They also advised that DOT would supply a AARTO system-training team that would visit all councils and municipalities and it was confirmed that AARTO would adopt both e-mail and text message systems for notification of fines/infringements.

Stationery and ticket books are now to be printed on a six-month lead basis, they said. DOT confirmed that there were still “challenges” on cross-border matters and that the Minister was dealing with such issues.

Down the line

ANC MP Mtikeni Sibande expressed disquiet that local councils might not be able to implement the AARTO system in the near future for any number of reasons leading to the possibility that the system would work in some areas and not in others. The Chair said they could only be concerned with the legislation, not how government did their work.

Finally, it was agreed that the Bill was nearing the point where it could go forward to the National Assembly for voting but MPs agreed that it might be wise to hear from more affected parties such as bus owners, even though hearings were now finalised.

MPs agreed that they would meet further after the recess to hear the results of the High Court case on the subject and the matter of the contract renewal of previous AARTO operating company, Tasima (Pty) Ltd, and whether the e-Natis system was yet fully under the control of DOT.  The meeting is due 28 May.
Previous articles on category subject
E-tolling: OUTA takes it to Parliament – ParlyReportSA
AARTO draft Bill on licence demerits for comment – ParlyReport

Posted in Fuel,oil,renewables, LinkedIn, Security,police,defence, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

Was National Road Traffic Bill passed legally?

Query on status of National Road Traffic Bill….

Perhaps a more serious constitutional threat to e-tolling has now emerged than just simply public objection to the new road tax imposed by the National Road Traffic Bill based on information captured on camera mounted on road gantries, to pay for roads development and maintenance in South Africa.

This has emerged as a query on parliamentary procedure of the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill, the legislation passed by Parliament before becoming a necessary amendment to the Act thus allowing e-tolling.

Was Bill a section 76 Bill for provincial debate?

The query comes from the Democratic Alliance as to whether the Bill was correctly “tagged” when it was debated in Parliament and approved. Whilst the Bill was also objected to by COSATU, the DA maintains that the legislation was presented as a section 75 Bill, thus allowing approval by the National Assembly alone with simple concurrence from the NCOP.

The DA maintains that as e-tolling affects all motorists and vehicle operators throughout the country, the Bill should have been “tagged” as a section 76 Bill, which would have meant that the Bill should have been referred to all nine provinces and debated at a local level, provincial mandates for approval being obtained.

The DA is also aware that there is strong objection to e-tolling in the Western Cape where main national highways affect township transport, the winelands industry and tourism.

Purely national or provincial as well?

It is possibly a moot point whether National Road Traffic Amendment Bill is a national issue alone involving the minister of roads having the authority and public finance, by a public tax, to develop roads classified as “national” or whether the consultation process in the passage of the Bill was not correctly followed to allow for consumer opinion.

All would seem a little late however. In any case this, such a major change to legal procedure, would have to go to the Constitutional Court, an expensive process presumably needing to be funded by the main objectors, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA).

SANRAL has stated that “investors (in the system of e-tolling) are awaiting information as to their success in recovering the toll income from users, as this will determine whether they invest further or withdraw their current investment”

SANRAL commenced e-tolls, or electronic tolling, in Gauteng province, after a series of delays caused by opposition from road users and trade unions but from revenue so far received has said “although the numbers must still be verified, from the initial indications we are satisfied that we are on track to meet our debt obligations”.

Refer previous articles

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//finance-economic/bumpy-road-for-e-tolling-bill-continues/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//finance-economic/transport-laws-bill-on-e-tolling-amended/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/e-tolling-transport-laws-bill-held-over/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//finance-economic/transport-laws-bill-enabling-e-tolling-tabled-in-parliament/

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Troubled bus industry goes to Parliament

SA bus industry operators in trouble

lowveld-bus-The South African bus system is on the verge of collapse, says the Southern Africa Bus Operators Association (SABOA) and, as the second largest mode of transport in SA behind only taxi transport, this fact was bad news for both commuters and those in industry and commerce whose workers use it extensively, Parliament was told.

Professor Jackie Walters, of the University of Johannesburg and strategic advisor to SABOA, told the portfolio committee on transport that, by its nature, the bus industry in South Africa was partially subsidised and was one of the only countries in the world that seemed to manage on month-to-month contracts.

Subsidies out of date

The bus industry in the past, in order to receive it’s subsidies, worked its calculations on the basis of commuters carried but the industry had slowly switched to contracts where kilometers covered are now the basis for calculation, a preferable system in the industry.  However there had been no extensions or expansion allowed in kilometers covered by subsidies for thirteen years.

Prof. Walters maintained that the bus industry performed a critical role in balancing demand and the pricing system within the public transport system.

The policy applicable to the commuter bus industry was founded on the White Paper on National Transport Policy of 1996, and in a number of other documents such as the Moving South Africa Strategy (MSA), the National Land Transport Transition Act of 2000 (NLTTA) as well as a Model Tender Document and the Heads of Agreement (HOA) between organised labour and the Department of Transport (DOT).

Money disappearing

He told parliamentarians that it was the Southern African Bus Operators Association (SABOA) that regulated aspects of the tendering system but the industry was under stress due to the unintended consequences of Division of Revenue Act (DORA) and the bus contracting system to the government, which was supposed to provide financial stability for industry. Whilst funds may be allocated under DORA to provinces, what happened after that was out of control of central government.

The financial stability intended for the bus industry to provide for commuters was a theory but on the ground quite the opposite was happening, he maintained.   This short-term horizon for the industry made longer-term investment decisions difficult and banks were reluctant to provide funding because of the uncertainty over the future of the contracts.  “No industry can operate on this basis‚” Prof. Walters said.

No windfalls, no shortfalls even

He attributed the problem again to the negative effect of DORA, which left it to provinces to make up the difference between the public transport operations grant allocated to provinces by national treasury and an agreed-upon escalation rate‚ which was linked to increases in the consumer price index.  Provinces continually claimed that they did not have the money to make up the shortfall.

Prof. Walters said the government had not taken into account at any stage the onerous operational cost increases that bus companies had to bear; namely 44% for labour‚ 28% for maintenance and the national escalation on fuel. There had to be risk sharing between government and the operators, he said.

 

No conformity

There were different types of contracts in the industry, he went on to explain, some which were seventeen years old and which were supposed to have been transformed after three years with competitive tendering and negotiation of contracts.

He said that in all there were 39 interim contracts in operation, 66 tender contracts and 10 negotiated contracts. The contract types in operation were based on a user-pays principle regarding the subsidies.

In conclusion, Prof Walters said that above all it was important to get national treasury to acknowledge the contracts and not leave things to the provinces.

DOT to investigate

MPs generally agreed that in the longer term, common ticketing systems over all services in the country generally had to be introduced, similar to that in the BRT system but a short term answer also had to be found to keep the industry alive in terms of the explanations from Dr Walters. 

DOT was told to  report back to Parliament.

Refer previous articles in this category
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/transport-subsidies-to-business-are-wrong-says-parliament/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/all-not-well-in-the-trucking-industry/

Posted in Finance, economic, LinkedIn, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

Parliament not satisfied with road death figures

 

Road death numbers not adding up

An opposition motion for clarification by the minister of transport, Ben Martins, on apparent discrepancies in road deaths reported by the ministry of transport has led to a call by the portfolio committee on transport for the minister to meet with parliamentarians to try and establish the reason for what is suspected to have been a major increase in mortality numbers according to recent figures given.

Iian ollisn a letter from Ian Ollis MP (DA), addressed to the chairperson of the transport committee Ruth Bhengu, it was pointed out that “the recent road death toll figures released by the Minister of Transport, Mr Ben Martins, raise serious concerns which require the immediate attention of the portfolio committee on transport. The figures given in the recent annual strategy and budget report of the department of transport indicate a substantial increase over the previous year.”

It was also pointed out that there were discrepancies between the figures released by the department of transport on annual figures generally and studies done by the National Institute of Mortality Studies and the Medical Research Council both in 2012.

Reasons requested

The motion went on to say that the minister “should report on the reason for the increase in road deaths; the estimation of the correct figures; the successes and challenges of current road safety campaigns and what was being done to address South Africa’s poor ranking by World Health Organization (WHO) on the subject.”

Other members of the committee asked whether the high rate of road mortality and thus South Africa’s poor ranking, was the result of road infrastructure collapse, the recklessness of drivers, or a combination of this and other issues.

Chairperson Bhengu said that a specific answer had to come from the minister on these issues and she wanted to know from the department of transport as well on the question of transport of schoolchildren. She was aware that in some instances children “were crammed onto bakkies” and this was lethal, she added.

A reply is expected from the minister shortly.

Associated articles archived
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//finance-economic/all-not-well-in-the-trucking-industry-2/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//public-utilities/aarto-amendment-bill-gives-back-up-to-road-law/

Posted in Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

All not well in the trucking industry

Call that corruption exists

trucksIn answer to a call made by the portfolio committee on transport on the state of the trucking industry in South Africa, it became evident from responses by the department of transport (DoT); from the Road Freight Association (RFA) and examples given by an independent small operator, that large truckers dominated in an industry in an unfair manner that was rife with corruption.

Mawethu Vilana, deputy director-general DoT, said that going back to 2002/3, the department had begun an exercise to look at how to provide opportunities and also broaden the space for participation by smaller operators in the road freight sector. It became clear that smaller entrants lacked finance; that an “unscrupulous broking sector was part of the industry” and generally there was a lack of skills and know-how in the trucking industry generally due to poor provision of training facilities and an industry which was undercapitalised except but a few large operators.

DOT not playing proper role

Vilana admitted that when it came to black empowerment opportunities, the main player was the department of trade and industrydot logo (DTI) and not DoT, DTI having the BEE verification control system in their court, DoT playing virtually no part in either reform of the industry or the development of SMME’s.

On the subject of crime, little could be done about bribery and corruption, Vilana admitted under questioning by parliamentarians, unless legislation was beefed up with proper powers and a full, properly constituted investigation carried out into the industry.

Road users must pay

roadsHe also admitted that permit fees were high because of the principle of “user pays” which had been adopted by government “since road truckers caused great damage to the road system.”

Gavin Kelly, RFA said his association had 385 members, with 109 affiliates and 40 associates representing different levels of possible enforcement and ability to develop skills and training but complained of massive permit fees (the last being 412%); large levels of corruption amongst government officers and no value being added by the government’s road agency to the industry in general.

RFA also stated that there appeared to be no proper government road freight strategy and single government officials determined policy without ministerial approval.    Kelly said “no real consultation exists between the state road agency and the industry” and it was the RFA view that DoT “was just going through the motions.”

Trucking group says market closed

One medium sized operator, Tramarco, said that despite heavy investment in trucks and bearing in mind the “ever rising price of

tramarco site

tramarco site

fuel”, it was almost impossible to break into the transport business to obtain long-term “tangible” contracts from major mining groups and state utilities.   They appeared to feel “safer” using old contacts and larger companies and quite clearly favours were being granted, they said.

Their spokesman said that the entire industry was dominated by a number of large trucking groups and smaller entrants were effectively “locked out” of the industry because the industry was either not regulated properly.

AARTO somewhat dubious

They also said the licensing AARTO system was not working properly; there was a lack of legislative enforcement; too many corrupt officials had too much power and there appeared a lack of interest by large companies generally to uplift smaller operators, little interest in encouraging training and building the trucking job market.

Tramarco said that no favours or finance was called for by the medium and small sized companies but merely a fair chance to compete for tenders.   They called on government to provide leverage within its own government departments, state utilities and with industry to break up monopolistic habits and encourage more black empowerment opportunities.

“Large groups and utilities make lots of statements on freeing up the market but nothing happens”, Tramarco said.

MPs demand better skills development

MPs demanded of DoT that concrete steps be taken to assist small entrepreneurs and to provide proof of a record in the area of skills development. “It was clear that little had been done by the DoT in this area”, said one ANC member.

Opposition members said they were convinced that DoT “had no meaningful understanding of what the situation was on the ground.” One MP said the City of Cape Town had provided a solution by cutting the bigger contracts into smaller parts, supplying smaller quantities and increasing the number of entrants slowly. He called on DoT to start thinking of similar solutions on a national scale.

Roads to nowhere

Ruth BhenguChairperson Ruth Bhengu told DoT that the meeting had been called because an examples had been given to parliamentarians whereby “large companies gave small companies short-term contracts and rates that would not take them anywhere and businesses that were desperate could not only pay for their trucks but could not maintain them, the business going ‘broke’ as a result”.

There was also an immoral business broking sector emerging, she felt.

Vilana of DoT said there was nothing government could do to protect such entrepreneurs and that this was the nature of the industry which was high capital risk with a road system that was deteriorating.

The committee found this all very unsatisfactory and called for further meetings with DoT stating that these matters had to be resolved and that the challenges facing the trucking industry were to be investigated further. Also cross-parliamentary meetings with public enterprises and trade and industry committees were to be called. DoT was told it would be re-called for further reports.

Further archived references

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//public-utilities/aarto-amendment-bill-gives-back-up-to-road-law/

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//finance-economic/transport-laws-bill-on-e-tolling-amended/

Posted in Finance, economic, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Security,police,defence, Transport0 Comments

All not well in the trucking industry

Trucking dominated by large companies…

In answer to a call made by the portfolio committee on transport on the state of the trucking industry in South Africa, it became evident from responses by the department of transport (DoT); from the Road Freight Association (RFA) and examples given by an independent small operator, that large truckers dominated in an industry in an unfair manner that was rife with corruption.

Mawethu Vilana, deputy director-general DoT, said that going back to 2002/3, the department had begun an exercise to look at how to provide opportunities and also broaden the space for participation by smaller operators in the road freight sector. It became clear that smaller entrants lacked finance; that an “unscrupulous broking sector was part of the industry” and generally there was a lack of skills and know-how in the trucking industry generally due to poor provision of training facilities and an industry which was under capitalised except but a few large operators.

DTI main players

Vilana admitted that when it came to black empowerment opportunities, the main player was the department of trade and industry (DTI) and not DoT, DTI having the BEE verification control system in their court, DoT playing virtually no part in either reform of the industry or the development of SMME’s.

On the subject of crime, little could be done about bribery and corruption, Vilana admitted under questioning by parliamentarians, unless legislation was beefed up with proper powers and a full, properly constituted investigation carried out into the industry.

He also admitted that permit fees were high because of the principle of “user pays” which had been adopted by government “since road truckers caused great damage to the road system.”

RFA has its say

Gavin Kelly, RFA said his association had 385 members, with 109 affiliates and 40 associates representing different levels of possible enforcement and ability to develop skills and training but complained of massive permit fees (the last being 412%); large levels of corruption amongst government officers and no value being added by the government’s road agency to the industry in general.

RFA also stated that there appeared to be no proper government road freight strategy and single government officials determined policy without ministerial approval.    Kelly said “no real consultation exists between the state road agency and the industry” and it was the RFA view that DoT “was just going through the motions.”

One medium sized operator, Tramarco, said that despite heavy investment in trucks and bearing in mind the “ever rising price of fuel”, it was almost impossible to break into the transport business to obtain long-term “tangible” contracts from major mining groups and state utilities.   They appeared to feel “safer” using old contacts and larger companies and quite clearly favours were being granted, they said.

Their spokesman said that the entire industry was dominated by a number of large trucking groups and smaller entrants were effectively “locked out” of the industry because the industry was either not regulated properly.

Not happy with AARTO

They also said the licensing AARTO system was not working properly; there was a lack of legislative enforcement; too many corrupt officials had too much power and there appeared a lack of interest by large companies generally to uplift smaller operators, little interest in encouraging training and building the trucking job market.

Tramarco said that no favours or finance was called for by the medium and small sized companies but merely a fair chance to compete for tenders.   They called on government to provide leverage within its own government departments, state utilities and with industry to break up monopolistic habits and encourage more black empowerment opportunities.

“Large groups and utilities make lots of statements on freeing up the market but nothing happens”, Tramarco said.

Help SMMEs

MPs demanded of DoT that concrete steps be taken to assist small entrepreneurs and to provide proof of a record in the area of skills development. “It was clear that little had been done by the DoT in this area”, said one ANC member.

Opposition members said they were convinced that DoT “had no meaningful understanding of what the situation was on the ground.” One MP said the City of Cape Town had provided a solution by cutting the bigger contracts into smaller parts, supplying smaller quantities and increasing the number of entrants slowly. He called on DoT to start thinking of similar solutions on a national scale.

Chairperson Ruth Bhengu told DoT that the meeting had been called because an examples had been given to parliamentarians whereby “large companies gave small companies short-term contracts and rates that would not take them anywhere and businesses that were desperate could not only pay for their trucks but could not maintain them, the business going ‘broke’ as a result”.

There was also an immoral business broking sector emerging, she felt.

Roads deteriorating

Vilana of DoT said there was nothing government could do to protect such entrepreneurs and that this was the nature of the industry which was high capital risk with a road system that was deteriorating.

The committee found this all very unsatisfactory and called for further meetings with DoT stating that these matters had to be resolved and that the challenges facing the trucking industry were to be investigated further. Also cross-parliamentary meetings with public enterprises and trade and industry committees were to be called. DoT was told it would be re-called for further reports.

Posted in BEE, Labour, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

Transport Laws Bill on e-tolling amended

Public disclosure written into Bill….

road tollsProposed amendments to the e-tolling Transport Laws and Related Matters Bill affecting alternative routes which are used to avoid or by-pass tolling systems – amendments originally proposed by the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) and subsequently amended by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and which vitally affect public disclosure – have been accepted by the parliamentary committee on transport and will be incorporated in the final Bill to be presented to the National Assembly for approval.

The Bill as originally tabled makes the proposition of e-tolling legally acceptable on a national basis. However, in a subsequent move, published proposals came forward from the FF+ to the effect that all socio-economic reports and traffic impact assessments compiled on alternative routings must be made available to the province concerned and every municipality affected before any e-tolling project can commence.

Alternative routes get heavy use

The FF+ proposal was on the basis that a considerable number of small towns and local governments have been badly affected by heavy traffic, where heavily used by-pass routes, now required by law, have been picked to obviate the necessity of paying e-toll fees.  Lower grade roads have sometimes been made impassable and even bridging damaged.

On the basis of the FF+ request, the necessary proposals were published but during the process of adoption it was pointed out by the DA that such amendments were still not acceptable. Whilst the principle was right, they said, the amendment was insufficient since no guarantee was provided on public consultation or public involvement, particularly in the case of the affected parties.

 

No chance to hide

Ian Ollis, shadow minister of transport said, “What happens if a provincial officer or somebody at local government level, maybe even somebody who has a vested interest fails to disclose the reports or impact assessments or even hides them in a drawer?”, he asked. The case of OUTA was a case in point, he said.

After debate with the state law advisor, the DA’s additional proposal that all such reports on socio economic factors and all impact assessments involving matters regarding e-tolling were to be published in the government gazette for public consumption, was accepted.

The Bill will now go forward to the NCOP for approval.

Posted in Finance, economic, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

e-tolling Transport Bill held over

Changes made after parliamentary hearings.

Department of transport spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso told a media briefing on e-tolling ecently that the portfolio transport committee was to completed two days of public hearings on e-tolling and the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill in Parliament.   As  a result Parliament has given notice for the matter to be brought before National Assembly with certain further changes scheduled.

In hearings that took place within the portfolio committee on transport under Adv Johnny de Lange as chair the Bill was adopted in debate, although opposition members abstained from voting in favour since caucus support on what was considered by them as possible and reasonable  could not be approved in the light of time restraints, this being the reason given.

The Bill, subject therefore subject to final approval by Parliament still stands, as does the issue of e-tolling on a national basis.

“The matter has been postponed for for further discussion”, Rikhotso said, referring to the fact that the NA had yet to agree or not to the withdrawal of the Bill or whether more changes were to be accepted brought forward by the portfolio committee as a result of public hearings which took place and further possible debate.

SALGA agreeable in part

Issues at the public hearings with regard to e-tolling mainly involved the practical application and whether SANRAL was exceeding its mandate. Only two oral presentations were heard although some ten papers or submissions were circulated, including one from Business Unity SA.     What is clear, however, is that despite all the argument and debate, the actual process of e-tolling will be hard if not impossible to undo.

The oral hearings included a South African Local Government Association (SALGA) submission presented by Mthobeli Kolisa, executive director of municipal infrastructure services, South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and also from Ms Jane Bennett, affiliate support coordinator, COSATU. No oral submissions were received from OUTA, although it was unclear if written submissions were made.

SALGA said its association of 278 municipalities was primarily trying to achieve the objective of ensuring that the legislation would provide for studies on the impact of the diversion of traffic from proposed urban tolled roads into local roads. These studies must address the likely congestion and resultant costs of road maintenance and traffic management, and access to opportunities for life on the part of affected communities.

The studies, they said, must form the basis for decision making regarding whether or not to toll a road, and to determine what mitigating measures were needed to address the negative impacts if the tolling was to go ahead.

Whilst SALGA supported the proposed bill it wanted to see additional clauses that also affected the mandate of the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) and National Roads Act which called for the minister’s approval for any declaration in partnership with affected municipalities.

These had to include in their view studies on the likely impact of the contemplated road tolling on communities’ access to livelihood opportunities; local roads in terms of diversion and related maintenance and traffic management costs and for such studies to be used as a basis for public consultations and such conditions had to be written into the proposals, SALGA said.

Bennett of COSATU was of the opinion that without the Bill, the e-toll would not be able to proceed and suggested strongly to parliamentarians to take the decision to reject the Bill. She said the issue of a Bill to make e-tolling possible had been rushed through as an afterthought, just to make the matter legal and that it ran counter to a number of basic principles of law, not the least the National Credit Act.

COSATU maintained there had been “little sincerity in the consultation” and tolls like the Gauteng Highway Project and others in the country, no doubt to follow, would add a huge burden to the already impoverished poor. There was also a suggestion of profiteering, she said. However the overall feeling of the portfolio committee was that the COSATU suggestions were insufficiently persuasive to halt national road development on a user pays basis.

COSATU raised issues surrounding the application of the provisions of the Cross- Border Transport Road Agency and the lack of restrictions on how tariff increases would be applied in future. COSATU strongly objected to the parliamentary procedure involved and which had excluded input from the provinces, meaning that the Bill had been tabled as a section 75 Bill which does not call for provincial hearings and mandates through the NCOP.

At the hearings, both the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) and the Department of Transport (DOT) questioned the amendments sought by SALGA. They stated that the SANRAL Act already required SANRAL to inform all affected municipalities about the tolling of a section of national roads, and that this already catered for SALGA’s request.

From parliamentary papers it appears that the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill could have been withdrawn from the National Assembly order paper at the last minute before the discussions but despite this fact, subsequent debate did in fact take place place and approval by the portfolio committee on the Bill was obtained by a majority vote. This means  that whilst the legislation may be amended, e-tolling itself as a process will probably roll on providing concurrence of the National Council of Provinces is agreed in early 2013.

Parliament’s deliberations on the bill in the NA will continue in the New Year it is presumed  after Parliament reconvenes on February 10, and the future of the legislation as it stands then debated further. In the meanwhile the debate will no doubt rage on at community level.

The difficulty could well be that the amendments sought by SALGA and perhaps by the portfolio committee after deliberations could affect the anchor legislation itself and more than one piece of law.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Land,Agriculture, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

Transport fuel subsidies to business are wrong, says Parliament.

Parliamentary committee says transport fuel subsidies should go to consumers

The chairperson of the portfolio committee on transport, Ms “Nellie” Bhengu, told the department of transport (DOT) that in her view by not actually giving the consumer, or the household, any portion of state transport fuel subsidies, the  integrated public transport system (IPTS) plan as presented to Parliament, particularly on the subject of fuel pricing, “was not really speaking to the needs of the people.”

Although under considerable pressure to explain why government’s approach to the IPTS should not be driven by commuter subsidies, Mathabatha Mokonyama, deputy director general, public transport, of the department of transport (DOT), explained that this was not a practical suggestion. The reality was that DOT had to deal with operators, he said.

Mokonyama said the current system of fuel pricing was likely to stay the same in South Africa for the foreseeable future.

He told parliamentarians that South Africa system was to negotiate subsidies with transport operators in terms of the legal structure governing the country and explained that both the history of private bus operators in SA and the growth of an independent taxi industry had mitigated against a commuter subsidy system and had led to the current system, however ideal other proposals might be as far as government was concerned.

MPs argued that in countries such as the England, Canada, Germany Sweden and even Kenya, such systems existed and citizens could purchase open tickets across of whole range of forms of transport and commute therefore at lesser costs to their already strained household budgets.

All is not well in the transport system in South Africa, DDG Mokonyama admitted to the committee, “and we cannot not hide from this fact. We are dealing with up to forty years in backlog of capital items, particularly rail rolling stock”, he said.

He told parliamentarians in the portfolio committee on transport that the proposed integrated public transport networks (IPTNs) in SA, some partially implemented and some still in planning, involved the integration of local rail, bus, mini-bus, taxi and “on-demand” services, and also to which link long distance services such as air, train, coach and midi-bus taxi were tied in.

Current constraints, as were well known, included lack of pre-travel information, poor sidewalks, badly maintained directional signage, lack of vehicle destination information, lack of real-time travel information and lack of safety.

Whilst the public may appear to prefer private transport, in census results this only came about because of the lack of public systems, the public being aware of the very poor maintenance aspect to bus and coach services, insufficient rail alternatives and no provision for cycling.

97.5% of the vehicles used for transport were acquired in the ‘fifties, DDG Mokonyama said, and effective vehicle mobilisation and surbanisation of the population only occurred in high and relatively high middle-income groups. Added to which problems it was to be noted that approximately 3.1m RDP housing units had been “inappropriately” located, he said.

Poor planning at local government level had exacerbated the problem, he said, and when questioned by MP Ian Ollis (DA) which came first; building a housing area near a rail line or insisting a rail line is taken to a housing area, the answer came from DDG Mokonyama that DOT worked through the integrated planning committees, some of which worked well and others not, but nevertheless that DOT could only recommend, not give instructions. He said he understood what Ollis was saying.

DOT noted with statistics that whilst London, Jakarta and Paris handle slightly over 30 million people in a sprawling areas in total area probably equalled by Gauteng (Jhbg, Benoni, Brakpan, Sandton etc). The situation was not the same just because of geographic size.

Although apartheid and forced removals had started the decentralisation, distance problems with urban sprawl were much of the problem and the urbanisation of millions of potential commuters from rural areas to cities had completely altered the scenario and made any comparisons irrelevant.

The commuter impact, he said, of the this “sprawling” in SA was high peak rushes and a “tidal flow” demand pattern, leaving vast amounts of transport idle for three quarters of a working day, coupled in SA particularly with “patchy” weekend services which also did not happen from a comparative viewpoint in many countries. Many developing counties worked through a seven-day week.

Mokonyama said DOT had identified the short distance commuter transport bus system known as BRT (Bus Rapid Transport); high quality long distance bus services and what was referred as “rapid rail”. All three were as critical elements of the department’s IPTN but stated there were “the municipal situations that warranted an intervention.” He did not expand on this.

He confirmed earlier survey reports that South Africa “had a poor public transport system” and 31% of SA households had access to a car – the “split” for travel to work being 32% for car travel; 23% of people walked to work and 25% used a taxi. The number of persons using bus and train only amounted to 15% of the total, whilst 5% used “other means”.

Meanwhile, Mokonyama  said, whilst it might look like that in SA that operational subsidies given by the state were relatively similar to other countries, the vast difference in incomes compared with SA and overseas showed SA as having “cost of transport” as one of the major and highest items in household expenditure.

Statistics also indicated that whilst only 31% of South Africans owned a vehicle, operational subsidies allocated to rail and buses was R3.5bn and R4.3bn respectively for 2012 and 2013.  Persons earning less that R500 a month spent 35% of their income on transport; those earning between R501-R1000 spent 23% and households earning between R1, 001 – R2, 000 spent 14% of their income on transport.    On government interactions and interventions taken recently, the first approach had been the National Land Transport Act to bring about some form of regulation, infrastructure oversight and operational funding process to the situation. Following this, the main metros had been instructed to commenced integrated transport systems, which was now process of happening, he said.

DDG Mokonyama then gave a city by city report on each (IPTS), showing that Cape Town, Johannesburg and Tshwane were relatively advanced, Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya scheme from Soweto to City having come into operation in February 2011 and already had carried 1.1m passengers but labour unrest had shut down the system for two months.

The second phase of Rea Vaya to Parktown was 90% complete and the Parktown to Sandton route had been changed to incorporate Alexandra township but had not yet started.

In Cape Town, the feeder service, My Citi, was carrying 12,000 passengers per month on 42 buses, 50% being former vehicle commuters.    R1.5bn was due to be spent by June 2013 to complete Phase 2 of My Citi which was in part operation.   Phase 3 incorporated metro east operations and would be underway in the following two years.

An Example of an integrated system for the whole of Tshwane was shown, indicating a combination of buses, existing rail, Gautrain, the existing BRT corridor and new rail for places as far apart as Mamelodi, to Mabopane, Garankuwa and Rosslyn, from Centurion to Hammanskraal taking in the national rail line, all inked to the CBD and Hatfield in the centre. Such IPTNs were in place for most cities in SA, he said.

When asked if the Moloto Corridor programme was part of the integrated transport plan, DDG Mokonyama told parliamentarians that it was. “We are doing the analysis.  Rail is so much safer than bus on open roads over a long distance and this fact has given more impetus to the plan”.    He admitted that the plan had originally turned down but said this was not a wish not to proceed but that no feasibility study had been conducted.

Again ANC MPs asked why subsidies did not go to commuters but in reply, DDG Mokonyama quoted an example with Sasol and their commuters, Sasol running a bus system where they, as employers, were paying an operator a bus subsidy.

However, the union involved had demanded the sum and there were, Mokonyama said, “bad consequences for the commuter”.   The department had learnt from this, he said to parliamentarians.  “I would like to believe we can get rid of some of the unintended consequences by not dealing with matters in this way”, he added.

 

 

Posted in Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

Transnet says freight rail operations coming right

Brian Molefe, CEO of Transnet, went before the portfolio committee on transport regarding the utility’s annual financials and reported that cash generated from operations was up 24% to R18.3bn for 2011/12, being the year under review, and that the Transnet balance sheet recorded a profit of R4.1bn, Transfreight Rail providing around half the revenue.

Mostly importantly he advised (9/10/2012) that in the light of the strong balance sheet, Transnet would be able to borrow for future capital expansion without government guarantees. On the subject of freight improvements he said that coal freight for 2011/12 was up 8.8%, iron ore was up 13.2%, and gross tonnes per kilometre productivity was improved by 1%.

Although maritime container volumes had increased, Molefe said, Pier 2 in Durban had experienced a decline during the current refurbishment period, new cranes having been ordered to improve the position.

Karl Socikwa, Transnet Port Terminals, however, told parliamentarians that productivity issues with Durban container terminal in general was improving and that the “the dwell time of ships were now three to four days.” With the replacement of cranes now being undertaken “Pier 2 was basically a construction site at present”, he said.

In his general report, CEO Molefe said that petroleum volumes decreased by 7.1% because of “industry supply problems” and the Durban – Johannesburg pipeline usage decreased by 8.8%.

On equity issues he said that the Transnet workforce was currently made up of 78.5% blacks and 21.5% whites with 78% being males and 22% being females and that the human resources division would take on sixty engineering trainees, 181 technician trainees and 854 artisan trainees. Training accounted for 3.9% of personnel costs. The total number of employers was 50 992 which pushed up the total employed by 6.6%.

On the subject of reduced revenue experienced by Transnet Pipelines for the period 2011/12, Charl Möller, chief executive, said much of the slowdown in volumes passing through what was known as NMPP was mainly as a result of the slowdown in economic activity; various market changes; improved fuel efficiency and the introduction of Gautrain.

Posted in Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Labour, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport, Uncategorized0 Comments

Road Accident Fund mess continues

In terms of its annual report tabled before Parliament recently the Road Accident Fund (RAF) remains technically bankrupt according to its CEO, Eugene Watson who was appointed to the post recently.

“The Road Accident Fund incurred a net loss of R16.487m during the year ended March 2012 and, as of that date, the entity’s total liabilities exceed its total assets by R46.395m”, he told parliamentarians.

In a separate report but incorporated into the presentation, the auditor general’s remarks were highlighted where it was stated that the financial position cast doubts on the RAF to operate as a going concern and there still be a lack of controls to curb the wastage of unnecessary expenditure.

Watson said funding models were being considered as an alternative, including funding from the road levy. Both funding and the approach to claims had to be re-considered, he said.

“The fund recorded a deficit of R16.5 billion in the financial year under review compared to a net deficit of R1.5bn in the previous year,” said Watson and this was as a result, he said, in provisions having to be made for outstanding claims. The figures he presented showed an increase from 2010/11 of R34bn to 2011/12 at R54bn.

The report highlights the fact that thousands of claimants have outstanding compensation cases and many involve claims serious injuries. Some of the claims have been outstanding for a number of years.

“Government need to consider interim legislative measures to ensure that inefficiencies in the current compensation system, which we cannot control, are contained”, he told the committee parliamentarians.

 

Posted in Finance, economic, Justice, constitutional, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments


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