Tag Archive | taxi recapitalisation

Road and Rail South Africa

Minister comments on taxi and rail plans

Taxi recap slows, rail plans behind….

Transport minister, Dipuo Peters, told parliamentarians during the annual budget vote debate during a transport portfolio committee meeting that she had to re-look at the failing taxi recapitalisation programme; encourage Gauteng road users to pay e-tolls by announcing incentives; tackle urgently the upgrading of roads; and consider methods to restore freight rail transport as a the primary carrier for the Durban/Gauteng corridor.

The minister said that she recognised that the taxi industry played a critical role in the South African economy by providing 300,000 jobs and contributing an estimated,R40bn to the economy, she said.

Taxi industry must change

The need to modernise the taxi industry still remained as an urgent issue, she continued, and also there was a need to further deploy taxi drivers to other industries, including the bus rapid transit system, possibly aviation and to ports and shipping.

She attributed the slow pace of the recapitalisation programme to the fact that heavily indebted taxi operators chose to remain with old taxis rather enter the process of recapitalisation.   Also, the scrapping allowance had been overtaken by rising prices of new taxis. The entire system needed a priority overhaul, she said, since the safety of the South African passengers was at risk.

Later it became evident during debate that the taxi recapitalisation programme had for all intents and purposes stalled, since only 2,752 vehicles had been scrapped in some eighteen months.

E-toll dispensations

On the subject of e-tolls, Minister Peters said that in order to “make things easier” for the public, DoT was providing an extension of the payment period from seven days to fifty one days; a 48% e-tag-holder discount; 60% discount on the alternative tariff if a non registered user paid within the same 51 days; time-of-day discounts applicable in certain cases; frequent user discounts and a cap on class A2/light vehicles

The minister was asked if SANRAL intended to continue its “prosecution and possibly criminalisation of some one-million people who have not paid their e-toll bills”. She replied that she hoped the new arrangements would assist in reducing the financial burden for motorists. She urged Gauteng users of tolled roads to “accept their responsibilities in the interests of better roads for South Africa if SANRAL were to perform their duties and meet their targets.”

She asked MPs to take the lead and say publicly that they were.

How it works

The total DoT budget was R48.7bn. for 2014/15, rising to R53.9bn. in 2015/16. This amount included allocations to provinces, municipalities, state owned companies and agencies. Road transport received 43.7%, rail transport had 34.9% and public transport 21%, whilst civil aviation and maritime each received 0.4%. DoT was responsible for transfer of payments and conditional grants to provinces and municipalities.

On the issue of road conditions nationally, DOT heads stated that only 10% of roads were in “poor” condition and the department indicated that it would provide R21.9bn in critical support to SANRAL who were the roads delivery agent for DoT.

Metrorail must improve

On rail issues and rail transport, Mawethu Vilana, acting DG for DoT, said passenger rail accounted for a large slice of the commuter transport used by the national work force, R15bn being allocated to the railways accordingly.    He said DoT was trying to reduce the cost and to improve the services of Metrorail, as well as accelerate implementation of integrating rail services with other transport services.   A White Paper would be issued on rail integration issues.

This was enlarged upon by Mathabatha Mokonyama, DG of public transport, who said the focus was on accelerating integrated transport systems “so as to improve its overall productivity” and DoT would to allocate R81m to the integration process, expected to increase to R84m in 2015/16 and again to R89m in 2016/17.

Mokonyama reconfirmed that whilst rail transport played a major role, DoT had to focus on reducing the cost of public transport generally and it would also monitor the progress of the Passenger Rail Agency in its objective to restore to the country national rail passenger systems.

Focus must be on freight

He indicated that rail freight transport had to play a larger role in order to compete with road, particularly the Durban/Gauteng corridor and to service industry in Mpumalanga.

Mokonyama again pointed to the new draft updated White Paper on Transport which was on its way as a framework for public discussion. DoT would also update the Moving South Africa plan and the seven-year old rural transport strategy. This new planning called for further updated legislation.

Minister Peters, in conclusion, conceded under questioning that DoT urgently needed to update scholar transport policies and re-introduce urgency to programmes to reduce road fatalities.

Where is the merchant navy

In an odd ending to the debate, when discussing the budget vote on maritime issues, it was said by the DoT maritime services DG that there was a need to establish a maritime shipping sector. The chair promptly asked, “What has happened to the country’s ships?”

The deputy minister of transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga, replied “All our ships were sold on the eve of democracy to make sure that the current government did not participate in the international shipping industry”.

This position was to be reversed, she concluded.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//finance-economic/prasa-says-upgrade-of-rail-transport-will-involve-local-industry/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//finance-economic/bumpy-road-for-e-tolling-bill-continues/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/transnet-says-freight-rail-operations-coming-right/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/transport-subsidies-to-business-are-wrong-says-parliament/

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AG suspects corruption in taxi recapitalisation

On corruption MPs ask for Hawks…

A number of  MPs, frustrated by hearing of corruption and by not knowing whom to believe, demanded that the SAP Priority Crimes unit and the Hawks be called in to investigate financial failures and mismanagement of the taxi recapitalisation programme.     The department of Transport (DoT) had been called before the portfolio committee to explain the qualifications contained in the AG’s annual report on the department’s financial performance.

The renewal without authority of the  e-NaTis vehicle registration contract, a further fact reported by the auditor general (AG) in the 2011/2 DOT departmental financials, also gave MPs considerable concern.

Indicative of the seriousness of the issue was the fact that the minister of transport, Ben Martins, himself previously a parliamentary chairperson, appeared before the portfolio committee of transport to give assurances that investigations would take place.

DoT denies claims

During the briefing, the deputy director general of transport, DoT, Mathabatha Mokonyama, maintained that the claims made by the auditor general were incorrect insofar as the scrapping payouts made by his department were concerned.

He maintained that despite the AG’s qualification that no supporting documents, or any form of accounting documents for any of the thousands of old taxis bought from their owners before scrapping could be accounted for, the claim by the AG was quite untrue despite the lack of documentation supplied.

He acknowledged that indeed R2.9bn, the amount under query, of the total of R7.7bn provided since the programme had started, had all been properly recorded but documents simply not provided with the reconciliations to the AG. The AG maintained that the only document that existed was a simple spread sheet of expenditure.

No backup documents ever came

The AG’s office, represented by deputy auditor general Kimi Makwetu, also stated that whatever the case no documents to support the disbursements had subsequently been supplied which were clearly asked for. As far her office was concerned, this meant unrecorded transactions had occurred and the department’s performance within DOT on this issue marked as “no information available”.

Minister of Transport Ben Martins promised his personal intervention in the matter and that investigations had already started within DOT.   During the course of the meeting it was noted that the consultants called were called in some years ago to manage the scrapping programme. The name was given as the Siyazi Consortium whom, it was stated, had been paid R640m to manage the scrapping programme.

Early ideals

In late 2006, the then minister of transport Jeff Radebe, now minister of justice, issued a statement saying, “I am therefore delighted to announce that for the first time in the history of the taxi recapitalisation programme, we will witness the real-time scrapping of old taxi vehicles.”

He said at the time, “ Our scrapping administration agency, Siyazi Consortium, is also far in advance in setting-up scrapping facilities in various provinces and has the target of ensuring that we recapitalise 85% of old taxi vehicles by 2010.”

e-NaTis also touched by fraud

Parliamentarians were also told by the AG at the meeting of the irregular extension of the e-NaTis vehicle registration programme, running currently at R1bn over its original contract value of R594m, without any formal tender process or regularity in terms of the public finance management act. Opposition MPs called for a police investigation.

The chief financial director, ministry of transport, confirmed during the meeting that neither the ministers of transport or finance were told of the extension by DOT officials but that national treasury had been informed.

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