Address by the Limpopo MEC for Roads and Transport, Honourable, Mme Pinky Kekana to the 2009 brandhouse number one taxi driver competition, Meropa, Polokwane
6 Oct 2009
The Head of Department
Chairperson of the LOB
Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) representatives
Members of the taxi industry
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
Today marks yet another milestone in our ongoing efforts towards ensuring the safety of our people in transport. An effective transport system has a significant impact on both the economic and social fabric of our country. It influences the economy in many ways, through its impact on the efficiency of business operations and labour mobility and, for its citizens, the attractiveness of South Africa, and in particular Limpopo as a place in which to live and prosper.
Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot ignore the national grievance which is: man made poverty, unemployment, poor and high costs of transport services et cetera. In this regard the historical imbalances must be replaced with the rhythms of economic restructuring and transformation that empower the poor in general.
Transport Month was first launched in October 2005 and has gone from strength to strength. It seeks to raise awareness of the important role of transport in the economy, and to invite participation from civic society and business, in providing a safer, more affordable, accessible and reliable transport system for the country.
It also provides a platform from which to demonstrate the investments that government has made, and will be making, to enhance the lives of all citizens, and provide an integrated and efficient transport system that positively impact on the economy.
The specific objectives of October Transport Month is to:
* raise awareness about the role of transport in growing and developing our economy and its importance to our citizenry in their everyday lives
* highlight important challenges in building an effective, safe, affordable, accessible and reliable transport system
* promote the use of public transport in order to reduce traffic congestion;
* promote a greater awareness of road safety behaviour for both users of vehicles, and for pedestrians
* engage stakeholders in all modes, in order that we may collectively prepare our transport system for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup and use this as a springboard for the continued success of our economy and people in the decades that follow.
Safety is paramount in the provision of a transport system that is trusted and admired. For this reason South Africa has prioritised her road safety strategy and strengthened the coordination of law enforcements through the establishment of the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), with strong support from provincial and local authorities. The Arrive Alive campaign is no longer a seasonal campaign it spreads road safety messages throughout the year.
Public transport is a key focus area as it is the lifeline mode for 80 percent of South Africa and it is for that reason that it should be prioritised over cars. 40 million citizens of our country have no driver’s licence and need public transport. 38 million live in households with no access to a car and depend on walking and public transport especially in rural provinces such as ours.
Our strategic vision is to move from basic commuter operations to accelerated modal upgrading and integrated rapid public transport networks which mean the following:
* 85 percent of all residents within 1km of rapid public transport network
* Upgraded modal fleet, facilities, stops, etc
* Extended hours of operation (16 to 24 hours)
* Peak frequencies (5 to 10 minutes) and off-peak frequencies of (10 to 30 minutes)
* Safe and secure operations monitored by control centre
* Electronic fare integration when making transfers and
* Integrated feeder services including walking/cycling and taxi networks.
Roads are probably the most important public transport enabler of all. Capacity is being extended to accommodate increased traffic.
Ladies and gentlemen, the key focus will clearly be on the taxi recapitalisation programme, and engagement opportunities with the taxi and bus stakeholders are ongoing throughout the month.
As government we are very proud of our association with brandhouse and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) on this very important initiative, the RTMC/brandhouse number 1 taxi driver competition.
It is through public-private partnerships like these that we can make major strides to improving safety on our roads. We want to acknowledge the generous support we are receiving from corporate South Africa. Indeed together we can do more to improve the lives of our people. Brandhouse I am sure you will deepen your support for road safety programmes especially in a neglected area such as the taxi industry.
The brandhouse RTMC number one taxi driver competition aims to promote and enhance driving skills and customer care which are crucial elements in our drive to reduce road fatalities but also ahead of hosting the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. It is an important step to take in order to ensure that we engender confidence in the taxi industry. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to showcase the best we can offer in the industry and many other areas.
Road signs and rules change from time to time we therefore need this competition to refresh the skills of our drivers. I am informed that with the p-drive system the drivers get tested through a computer-based programme piloted from Austria. I am sure after the tests, safe driving can be the only winner.
We are here to honour the taxi drivers and this is their day to be acknowledged. That is why it is critical that after the fanfare is over and done with today, the winners of this competition must go out there and serve as ambassadors of road safety. I challenge them to run training workshops and also give motivational talks, and those are but some of the simple steps they can take as taxi drivers.
The taxi drivers who have participated in this competition have demonstrated that despite the challenges they face daily on our roads, they are still committed to providing the best service possible to commuters. Such an approach will lead to visible improvement of responsible driving, which in turn, will lead to the reduction of accidents on our roads.
Additional to the Brandhouse RTMC Number One Taxi Competition, our province will also host the national Driver of the Year Competition to be held at Gateway Airport from 19 to 23 October. The awards ceremony will be graced by the Minister of Transport Sibusiso Ndebele and will recognise professional drivers who drive according to the rules of our roads.
The focus of the Driver of the Year is to improve the skills of professional drivers: bus drivers, truck drivers and light delivery van drivers. We have special categories of novice and women drivers. This is a deliberate policy intervention on our part as we push strongly to affirm women and the youth.
During the third and fourth week of this month, we will officially open three state-of-the-art traffic stations in Mokopane, Moutse and Thohoyandou. An amount of R38 million was spent on these stations. They will accommodate more than 240 traffic officers and render law enforcement services to well over 30 major routes. Vehicles will be tested closer to the communities concerned. Prospective drivers will also get services such as learners’ licence and drivers licence closer to home.
We are on course to meeting targets to creating decent jobs for our people through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) programme. Access roads, pedestrian walkways and cycling lanes will be constructed. The youth will also get an opportunity to be trained on technical areas, which means, beyond the programme, they can face life challenges.
We have taken an important step of dealing with un-roadworthy vehicles. The campaign targeted public transport vehicles taxis and buses operating without permits. We are clear in our determination to uproot any form of lawlessness. Those who have felt the full might of the law will tell you that we have impounded several unsafe buses and taxis and some transporting commuters without operating licenses.
Since the start of the operation in the Vhembe District on 29 September, more than 40 buses have been impounded and referred to be re-tested after faults were found on the vehicles. A similar operation was also launched in Polokwane. Within the next two weeks we will continue to target various flash points in the province. We will also be making un-announced visits to our service delivery points especially the vehicle testing stations, driver licensing testing centre and registering and licensing authorities. Those who overload with impunity and think they can bribe their way through the system will be tackled head-on.
The transport family has also made significant investment in infrastructure in advance of our hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This includes the enormous investment in Polokwane airport and feeder facilities. On the main international airport, we will be spending R51 million on upgrades and new facilities.
The depletion of non-renewable crude oil reserves, and uncertainty of supply, has knock on effect on fuel prices, and directly affects all economies, our included. These factors inform our thinking on planning for sustainability in all modes of transport. The use of non-motorised transport is seen as key to intelligent and practical transport planning, and Transport Month will focus on these alternatives and the measures that are being taken to promote their use.
We remain committed to confronting the challenges we are facing. As Nena O’Neil puts it, “If we do not rise to the challenge of our unique capacity to shape our lives, to seek the kinds of growth that we find individually fulfilling, then we can have no security we will live in a world of sham, in which our selves are determined by the will of others, in which we will be constantly buffeted and increasingly isolated by the changes around us.”
In conclusion let me say, all our plans will only succeed with an open and frank debate with everyone who wants to see a better transport system for all South Africans. This is our shared objective. And by working closely together, it can be our shared achievement.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Roads and Transport, Limpopo Provincial Government
6 October 2009
Source: Department of Roads and Transport, Limpopo Provincial Government (http://www.ldrt.gov.za/news.php)
Issued by: Limpopo Roads and Transport
6 Oct 2009
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