Address at the Mercedes Benz Trucking Wellness Partnership event by Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, Member of Parliament Minister of Transport
12 Oct 2010
Kobus van Zyl - Vice President, Commercial Vehicles
Mayur Bhana - Marketing Manager Commercial Vehicles
Thando Khaile - Senior Project Manager SABCOHA
Magretia Brown - Chairperson, Trucking Wellness
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
To be invited by Mercedes Benz in October Transport Month in South Africa is a welcome opportunity to be part of this great institution that has become the envy of the world. It is an honour because this is a global brand which next to Coca Cola, Nike and Google, the Mercedes Benz ranks among the most recognisable in the world.
We are also honoured that having successfully hosted the FIFA 2010 World Cup, South Africa now has the distinction of being mentioned in the same sentence as Germany, the home of Mercedes Benz. We are compared to Germany in terms of crowd attendance during the tournament. We are also pleased that we are also being compared to Germany in the efficiency with which we ran the World Cup.
Mercedes Benz therefore has a long association with South Africa which we are here to honour today. We are here also because we are interested in increasing levels of safety on our roads; we are here because we want to increase efficiencies in our transport sector. These two elements, safety and efficiency, are critical if transport is to play the same role today and in the near future- to move goods and people to all points in our economy.
It is also therefore appropriate that our theme for the 2010 October Transport Month Campaign is “Transport: Moving South Africa to do more together”. The essence of our relative success as a country is our belief in partnership. In transport it is the stake-holder relations we have with our other spheres of government, our communities, and the business sector here and abroad. Our partnership with MECs for Transport in all nine provinces is a critical lever for the successful delivery of our programmes.
In a globalised world transport may appear to express itself locally, but it is provincial, national and international in its impact. The ability of workers to move on time and with least cost from home to work in a Chinese owned factory in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal may impact on the supply of textiles meant for markets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The vehicle companies like Mercedes Benz which supply international markets know this too well that we are integral part of the globe and transport links us together.
The private sector has led this understanding through their training academies which aim to create better and more efficient workers. Having done so much already should we not be placing more responsibilities to this sector to train a broader section of the community than your employees? Should it not those who have already delivered be the ones to lead us into the future? Perhaps here we are again calling for partnerships in a number of areas in order to move our country forward. So what are some of the challenges we face today as the transport sector and the heavy trucking industry in particular?
The structure of the South African Economy
Since the days of Abraham in the Bible, transport has been central to the movement of people and goods in all economies. In South Africa approximately 96% of the country's exports are conveyed by sea. Our commercial ports are conduits for trade between South Africa and its Southern African partners. They are also hubs for traffic to and from Europe, Asia, the Americas and the East and West coasts of Africa.
The Port of Durban remains Africa's busiest port and the largest container facility in Southern Africa. Richards Bay is the world's largest bulk coal terminal. Taken together, South Africa's ports handled 183 million tons of cargo in 2007. A new commercial port in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape is set to be the deepest container terminal in Africa.
So we are a country that is economically dependent upon world commerce mainly through the South Atlantic and South Indian Oceans. Because of the amount of seaborne trade we conduct with the world, the South African trucking industry has become a significant player in the movement of goods into economic centres of Gauteng and other provinces. The trucking industry is critical in the movement of these goods to our key landlocked neighbours and north of South Africa.
Today most of our freight sits on our road network when it should be on rail. There are many reasons for this. One is the inefficiency, which we accept, has crept into our rail system. This situation, we must state has led to the unsustainable and irrational use of a precious asset - our road network. It is this debate about the rational use of our assets that must not threaten a rift in relations with the trucking industry. It should not be so. On one side it is true that the usage of our roads by overloaded trucks is a major cost to our economy. At the same time, badly maintained and damaged roads burden the private sector with huge maintenance bills. Maintenance and repair costs increase by up to 121% as a result of damaged roads!
On our side we have long identified the key challenges in this regard, we have pointed to the following:
- Institutional considerations i.e.: fragmentation of authority, inefficient alignment and unclear signaling and interpretation of national objectives and priorities
- Insufficient capacity at provincial and local levels
- Lack of clear economic signaling, both in terms of inter-government road financing and mechanisms for user charges; also, insufficiently specific balance between user costs and externalities
- Lack of adequate funding for rail
- Enforcement is understaffed and highly fragmented.
- Speed limits have varied widely among jurisdictions and if drivers are caught their probability of bearing the cost was limited.
Road and rail competing or complementary- Australian experience
In Australia, a study by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, regional Development and Local Government found that the choice of transport mode generally involved a trade-off between cost and several service quality factors. Typically, one mode is significantly more efficient and effective and consequently has a majority market share. The efficient and effective movement of Australia’s freight task will continue to involve a mix of road, rail, sea and air transport services.
In Australia and everywhere else key freight service quality indicators include transit time, reliability and service availability/frequency. In South Africa we face more urgent challenges unless we move goods which should be on rail back to rail. We identified the cost of damaged roads as being 60% attributable to overloaded trucks in KwaZulu-Natal many years ago. Together with other challenges including funding and implementation capacity this remains a problem in many of our provinces.
The debate is no longer about moving goods from road to rail. The debate is about the rational use of the network and obtaining the optimum split between road and rail. This is our point of departure. We think we could make a mark on this challenge if we:
1. increased the market share of total freight to rail more than three times to 900 million tons by 2014
2. benchmarked the cost of building and maintaining roads and to develop an appropriate funding model
3. implemented the Road Infrastructure Strategic Framework for South Africa (RIFSA)
4. implemented the approved Rural Transport Strategy for South Africa
5. cut road accident fatalities by five percent per annum to 2014 adjusting for total vehicle kilometres travelled
6. ring-fenced road maintenance funds, including the construction and maintenance of Rural Roads
7. developed Integrated Rapid Public Transport Networks in twelve metros and six rural districts.
Situation in South Africa and the rest of Africa
Unroadworthy vehicles and unroadworthy drivers sit in opposition to our campaign for safer drivers and safer vehicles. With the vehicle manufacturing industry we sit on the same side. The search for comfort and safety for the driver which the industry uses increasingly as a unique selling proposition is the call we make to all drivers. We ask them to stop and rest every 200km, we ask them to ensure they have seatbelts on, we ask them to keep following distances and not to speed. It is a common passion we share with the industry.
It is easy to see why. By 2020 our roads in Africa could kill more people than those who die from HIV and Malaria put together. Globally, approximately 1.3 million people die each year on the world’s roads. Between 20 and 50 million sustain non-fatal injuries.
Road traffic injuries remain a public health problem. In South Africa, the majority of reported crashes involve vulnerable road users- pedestrians, cyclists and those using motorised two- and three-wheelers. In 2008 crashes cost the South African economy approximately R56 billion which the industry also bears.
Measures taken by the African Continent
Road deaths have rightly raised the ire and attention of the whole world. This is because these deaths can be stopped. In February 2007 Ministers of Health and Transport in Africa endorsed the call for international dialogue. This was reaffirmed through the declaration by African Ministers of Transport and Infrastructure in Addis Ababa in April 2005. At this session African Ministers recalled the United Nations resolution which endorsed the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention. In July 2009, Tanzania hosted us at “Africa's Decade of Action for Road Safety" conference.
This platform provided Africa's main opportunity to debate road injury prevention issues before the first ever global United Nations Ministerial Conference on Road Safety held in Moscow in November 2009. We examined how African countries could implement the “Decade of Action for Road Safety”.
Measures that South Africa is taking
We have put in place a road safety strategy with the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) as its lead agency. A recent World Health Organisation report on South African Road Safety notes that we have the necessary legislation in place for example the wearing of helmets by motorcyclists, the wearing of seatbelts, drunken-driving legislation, the setting of speed limits, among others. Now we must be tough on implementation.
Administative Adjucation of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO)
Nobody pilots an aeroplane without knowing the laws that govern flying. Nobody drives a train without knowing the laws which govern train drivers.
Nobody captains a ship without being aware of the laws which govern this activity. No driver should be on the road unless they are aware of the laws which govern driving a motor vehicle, a bus or a truck. We have therefore started implementing AARTO to educate our drivers about driving in South Africa. We are implementing AARTO. But we are not implementing the demerit system yet.
The basic principle of AARTO is this: all drivers are meritorious. Out of about six million drivers on our roads today, only a very small number break the law. The rest obey the rules of the road on a consistent basis. It is the first lot that costs our country so much in finances, in emotion and pain. Should the rest of our drivers be paying for the behaviour of these few drivers? The answer is No!
It is the driver who breaks the law who needs to worry. The driver who must worry is the driver who wants to be the cause of death and wants to be the cause of never-ending pain. The driver who needs to worry about enforcement is the driver who wants to injure and maim others. It is this driver that our programmes are targeting.
How AARTO works
As part of our AARTO education campaign we may indicate that AARTO distinguishes between an offence and an infringement. An offence could lead to a substantial penalty, prison or both. An infringement on the other hand will be dealt with according to administrative procedures.
Infringement includes among others driving without a seatbelt, driving at 80km in 60km for instance, driving an unlicensed vehicle or driving without proper documentation. AARTO introduces parity across municipalities and provincial borders. All cases will be well-administered and followed up with tighter collection processes. We are glad that this tighter collection will lead to increased revenue streams which will be deployed to improve road safety.
Who among us is prepared to proclaim that they will not obey the law because they want to create widows and orphans out of South Africans? Which South African will allow anybody to break the law when they know it is their lives which are at risk? Contrary to some statements AARTO gives the driver more time than the current system. AARTO subjects the driver to an administrative system that takes choice into consideration.
The options are plenty. They are the driver’s to choose. In the first 32 days of committing an infringement the driver may:
- respond within 32 days and receive a discount on the penalty amount up to 50%
- nominate a person who was the driver
- make a representation
- apply to pay in instalments
- elect to be tried in court
Up to 64 days the driver will receive a courtesy letter and has four options over the next 32 days to:
- pay full penalty and administration fee
- make a representation
- apply to pay full amount
- elect to be tried
Up to 96 days
After 64 days an enforcement order will be issued which leaves the driver with two options for the next 32 days. The driver will pay a full penalty and administration fee for courtesy letter and enforcement order or apply for revocation of enforcement.
After 96 days
A Warrant of execution will be issued giving the driver two options for seven days:
- pay the full penalty, administration fee, costs for enforcement and courtesy letter, warrant and sheriff fee at driving licence centre, motor licensing centre
- or allow the Sheriff to seize and sell your movable property to the value of the full penalty, pay warrant and Sheriff costs and have your licence seized and vehicle disc removed.
New national rolling enforcement plan (NREP)
The key elements of the new national rolling enforcement plan (NREP) include the following:
- From October 2010 to October 2011, we will stop and check no less than one million vehicles a month.
- From 1 October 2010 to 14 October 2010 we will have stopped 250 000 vehicles.
- By October 31 we will have stopped 1million vehicles, another 1 million in November and by the end of 2010 we will have stopped 3 million.
- This is a massive operation. We have 17 000 officers nationally. We need to stop at least 34 000 vehicles per day. This means each officer needs to stop at least two vehicles for us to get to our weekly target of 250 000.
- We have introduced post-accident support through the Road Accident Fund (RAF) centres located at heath centres.
Again, we would like to commend our MECs for the role they have played and continue to play in driving our programmes, especially the Enforcement Plan which unfolds in the provinces. It is this partnership that will get us to our desired goal of halving road accidents by 2014.
Training for the future
A key part of our plan is the training of a new crop of driver in new ways of behaviour. We want 1million new drivers on our roads by next year. Together with the Departments of Basic Education and Higher Education we will be teaching learners to drive by the time they get to their first year at tertiary level. A tertiary certificate in one hand and a driver’s licence in the other is our motto!
- Through the Community Road Safety Councils (CRSCs) in all nine provinces we will identify local road safety issues.
- The CRSCs will also identify and engage local business for involvement in road safety projects of the department.
In our call for safety we also call for healthy drivers. HIV and AIDS should not mean death. However we must make our call to long distance drivers to take the necessary precautions on the road. We welcome the Mercedes-Benz Trucking Wellness programme, which aims to address the plight of truckers on the road. We also acknowledge the role played by the 20 roadside wellness centres located all over our country. We hope that those wellness centres are not only for the use of Mercedes Benz employees but of all the truck drivers.
We also welcome the efforts of the South African Business Coalition on HIV and AIDS (SABCHOA). SABCOHA’s work is necessary and urgent to ensure that drivers are safe from accidents but to also adopt a holistic approach to health and safety. The involvement of business means this will be given the necessary financial support from the private sector.
Ladies and gentlemen it is through collaboration with business and all partner communities that we can address the common challenges we face. Let us work together to make our roads safe and to save our people’s lives. We owe it to ourselves, our country, continent and the world.
Issued by: Department of Transport
12 Oct 2010
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