Address at the National Council of Provinces Transport Debate by Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of Transport
27 Oct 2011Honourable Chairperson
Members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP)
Ladies and Gentlemen
Honourable Chairperson, it is indeed my pleasure to open this debate, “Moving South Africa safely and on time.”
As you are all aware, October is Transport Month. This year, the theme is, “Year of job creation and service delivery in the transport sector: Moving South Africa to a better tomorrow”. Since the launch of the 2011 October Transport Month (OTM) Campaign on 22 September 2011 at the University of Zululand, Richards Bay Campus in KwaZulu-Natal, when we also celebrated International Maritime Day, almost every day we have been criss-crossing the length and breadth of our beautiful country to showcase to our citizens what transport has been doing to move South Africa safely and on time.
Given the deep-seated historical legacy of apartheid-inspired geographical marginalisation of the majority of South Africans, and decades of under-investment in public transport, government is going all out to ensure safe, efficient, reliable and affordable public transport.
Government's public transport plans are not a promise for the next millennium.
Transport infrastructure over the next two years is guaranteed to radically change the way South Africans travel, due to a multi-billion rand boost by government. Amounting to R66 billion this year (2011/12) and rising to R80 billion by 2013/14, the improvements are set to also create numerous jobs and tourism opportunities.The improvements are spread across the country, with both urban and rural areas set to benefit.
This comes as current transport infrastructure developments have been recognised of being world-class standard. The second report card on infrastructure released on 5 April 2011 by the South African Institute of Civil Engineering states that the country’s best performing infrastructure was its aviation infrastructure which was awarded the report’s only A. According to the report, South Africa’s national road network was “good to excellent”, and the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) and Ports have performed exceptionally well.
Earlier this year, the OR Tambo International Airport was named the best airport in Africa, and was also in the top three most-improved airports worldwide at the World Airport Awards for 2010/11 held in Denmark.
Meanwhile, Johannesburg's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system has been described as far better than that of New York by Walter Hook, Head of the Institute for Transportation and Development Planning in New York City, during a tour of Rea Vaya BRT facilities at the beginning of the year. Rea Vaya has also scooped various international awards.
As the Department of Transport, in order to deliver on our mandate, our three key focus areas are road safety, public transport and the maintenance and construction of roads.
It will be recalled that, when I was appointed Minister of Transport by President Zuma, the President said that KwaZulu-Natal's Zibambele and Vukuzakhe programmes must be extended to the rest of the country.
To this end, we launched the S'hamba Sonke Roads Programme. S'hamba Sonke is the result of our plea to President Zuma for dedicated funding for road maintenance. It started for the first time this financial year (1 April 2011), with an amount of R6.4 billion, R7.5 billion next financial year and R8.2 billion by 2014, totaling over R22 billion by 2014. This amount is a conditional grant dedicated to road maintenance.
The Department of Transport, in turn, has to report on a quarterly basis to National Treasury on the performance of this grant. As we provide all the necessary information on these projects, Members of this House must also evaluate and monitor implementation of these projects. We have committed to creating 70 000 jobs by 2012 through S'hamba Sonke. S'hamba Sonke is expected to create 400 000 jobs by 2014. The funds are allocated as follows for 2011/12:
KwaZulu-Natal - R1.2 billion;
Eastern Cape - R1 billion;
Mpumalanga - R1 billion;
Limpopo - R934 million;
Gauteng - R566 million;
Free State - R447 million;
Western Cape - R411 million;
Northern Cape - R308 million; and
North West - R501 million.
With regards to all new toll roads, I have instructed Sanral to halt all processes related to any new tolling of national roads. Cabinet recently appointed a Task Team, which includes the Minister of Finance and I, to look into the issue of toll roads.
On 10 August 2011, Cabinet approved e-toll tariffs for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) phase A1. The implementation of further phases of the GFIP will now be re-assessed, including by the newly announced Presidential Commission on Infrastructure. The re-assessment will involve discussions on infrastructure strategic priorities, on how best to address the challenges of congestion on some of our key road networks, and on funding of these priorities.
The user-pay principle to upgrade and expand Gauteng freeways was proposed by the Gauteng provincial government in the late 1990s.
Based on various engagements and consultations between national government, Gauteng provincial government, the relevant local government as well as other stakeholders, the GFIP was finally declared a toll road network in 2008, with funding from a R20 billion interest accruing loan with agreed terms and conditions.
In line with bringing our road network to meet the demands of a leading economy in SADC and Africa, Sanral will be intensifying its focus to assist provinces and municipalities with management support on contracts, provide necessary skills and expertise as well as assistance with our rural roads programme. In this regard, we will be finalizing a detailed plan within the next two weeks and will consult with provinces and municipalities. Over and above S’hamba Sonke funding, Sanral is providing an additional R1 billion, over the MTEF, for the maintenance and construction of roads.
We will also be shortly hosting a two-day Roads Funding Summit, where this plan will be debated by all relevant stakeholders including organised labour, business, civil society and academics. The summit will, amongst others, result in clear direction with regards to the process of funding and construction of roads, as well as agreement on key national road projects and the funding options available, including the user-pay principle (tolling) as well as the taxpayer-pay principle.
With regards to road safety, I have been chosen as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Road Safety Champion. My nomination as Regional Champion for Road Safety was approved at a meeting of the Committee of Ministers responsible for Transport and Meteorology from SADC, held on 7 October at Centurion in Pretoria.
Ministers also launched the SADC Decade of Action for Road Safety in support of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, and approved the Draft SADC Road Safety Awareness Campaign Strategy and Action Plan 2011-2014.
On Monday (25 October 2011), together with SANTACO, we launched the Transport Training Academy in the Free State, to improve the skills and capacity of taxi operators, drivers and general staff within the industry, and thereby provide an excellent service to all customers. Through the implementation of the TR3 2020 strategy, SANTACO launched Operation Hlokomela to support and create proper dialogue with commuters and drivers.
On 10 October 2011, we launched the “Friends of the Decade of Action”, to encourage the private sector to prioritise road safety during 2011 to 2020, and become a trend setter in road safety towards stabilising and reversing road crashes.
The Decade of Action for Road Safety is our chance to save lives: each one of us has a role to play in preventing deaths and injuries on the road. Let us all work together to make sure the world's roads are safe. To address these challenges in South Africa, various measures are being implemented, including:
The formation of Community Road Safety Councils in every municipality in the country.
In conjunction with the Department of Basic Education, road safety education is being introduced at schools as part of the life skills curriculum, so that Grade 11 learners (17 years) may acquire their learner’s licences and Grade 12 learners (18 years) their driving licences.
From October 2010 to September 2011, 19 780 drunk drivers have been arrested across the country.
In the Western Cape alone, almost 50 drivers have been sentenced to jail for drunk driving in the past year. Since 1 October 2010, 664 drivers have been sentenced in the Western Cape for drunk-driving offences, 47 of whom were sent directly to jail without the option of paying fines or serving another type of sentence. One was jailed for four years, six for three years and the remaining 40 for between six months and two-and-a-half years. A further 12 had their licences cancelled.
As part of the new National Rolling Enforcement Plan (NREP) we announced on 10 September 2010, from October 2010 to September 2011, 14 017 190 vehicles and drivers were checked, 5 978 981 fines issued for various traffic offences, and 53 341 un-roadworthy vehicles (the majority of which are buses and taxis) discontinued from use.
Since 31 August 2011, more than 1 760 un-roadworthy buses and taxis have been taken off South Africa's roads, following our instruction that every bus and taxi must be stopped and checked.
All road users must report bad driving to the National Traffic Call Centre on 0861 400 800.
With regards to public transport, our strategy aims to accelerate the improvements in public transport by establishing Integrated Rapid Public Transport Networks (IRPTNs), which will introduce priority rail corridors and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems, among others.
We are engaging in a comprehensive rail upgrade that looks at placing rail at the centre of our freight and commuter movement. Rail is the future backbone of our public transport system. The Gautrain and BRT form part of the advances being made to ensure safe, efficient, reliable and affordable public transport.
With regards to the Moloto corridor between Gauteng and Mpumalanga, we have witnessed several horrific road crashes on this stretch of road over the past year. Over the past two months, hundreds of un-roadworthy buses and mini-bus taxis have been removed from this road.
However, clearly a long-term solution is required for this corridor, and we believe that an extension of the rail system from Pretoria to the former KwaNdebele is an absolute necessity. At the moment, we are subsidizing commuters travelling on this route to the value of about R470 million per annum, but, due to the long travelling hours and distance, we are experiencing a continuing trend of road crashes. Within the next three weeks, a steering committee including representatives from the national Department of Transport, Gauteng and Mpumalanga Provincial Governments, the affected municipalities and other sister departments will deliberate on the financial feasibility study for this rail project. We have already registered this project as a Public Private Partnership with Treasury, which invokes a regulated process. By mid-November, we will provide further details on the roadmap for this project.
As of 1 April 2011, Government is spending R30.2 bn over the next three years for rail upgrades across the country, with R19.5 bn earmarked for capital spending to upgrade existing infrastructure, signaling systems and rolling stock.
The Department of Transport, through its Agency the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), is investing in new rail rolling stock at an estimated cost of R97 billion. Through this programme, PRASA will be able to procure new rolling stock and locomotives for the Metro service and the long-distance rail services. This will create opportunities for business, stimulate the rail engineering industry and related suppliers in the value-chain as well as contribute to our industrial policy objectives.
Working together we can do more.
Issued by: Department of Transport
27 Oct 2011
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