Speech delivered by Honourable Dikobe Ben Martins, Minister of Transport, at the launch of the 2012 October Transport Month in Soweto
1 Oct 2012
Deputy Minister of Transport, Honourable Sindisiwe Chikunga
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Transport
Members of the Executive Councils
Members of the Provincial Legislatures
Your Worship the Mayors and Members of the Mayoral Committees
Distinguished representatives of local government
Director-General of the Department of Transport
Provincial Heads of the Departments of Transport
Representatives of the State Owned Companies and agencies
Members of the South African Police and the Metro Police
Members of the Media
Ladies and gentlemen
I am pleased to address you today on the occasion of the launch of the 2012 October Transport Month programme. The full programme will be made available on the websites of the Department of Transport, Provincial Departments of Transport, municipalities and State Owned Companies and agencies. I encourage all stakeholders, including members of the media and the public, to follow the programme, and participate in the scheduled activities across the country.
This occasion gives us an opportunity to reflect on the current state of transport in our country as we continue to pursue many endeavours to ensure that all South Africans have access to decent, quality and affordable transport infrastructure and services.
We also meet here a year and a few months before the end of the second decade of democracy, another momentous occasion that will allow us to evaluate the progress we have made to implement the vision to make transport the heartbeat of the economy and social development. While there is nothing wrong with reviewing the journey we have travelled up to now, we must do this mindful of the challenges that lie ahead of us. There are still many South Africans outside the modern transport networks. They still depend on untarred roads, and have to walk long distances to access public transport.
The rail infrastructure also remains largely concentrated in the metropolitan areas where supply is above demand. This situation will make it difficult for many South Africans to participate in the economy, and therefore, exacerbate poverty and inequalities between and within communities.
Until we have responded adequately to the daily realities of our fellow citizens, there is no reason for complacency. Yet we must remain optimistic that sooner rather than later, we will live up to the task at hand. Working together we will fulfil the contract that our people have with government, and that entails the delivery of quality infrastructure and services that help improve the social and economic conditions of all citizens.
During the Transport Month, the Department of Transport, provincial transport departments, State Owned Companies (SOC) and agencies, as well as the private sector and other critical stakeholders seek to highlight the advances we have made while, at the same time, remained focused on the challenges before us.
The transport portfolio does not exist in isolation, but as an integral part of the economic and social fabric of our country. It is for this reason that our programmes and interventions should also seek to meet or stimulate the attainment of other national policy goals such as:
Job creation and poverty eradication;
Redress apartheid spatial development;
Local economic development and regional integration;
Safety of all users of the different modes of transport; and
The vision of the Department of Transport which entails making transport the heartbeat of the economy and social development should always find expression in the attainment of these national goals. These outputs and outcomes should foreground all government's programmes or projects, without exception.
The theme of this year's Transport Month is "Working together to provide a safe and reliable transport system".
This theme is significant to all stakeholders as the quest for safe and reliable transport is not only confined to public transport or to road users. It affects alI users, be they individuals, public or corporates. It also cut across the entire value chain of the industry, which includes road, rail, maritime and aviation.
Congestions on our roads and road accidents necessitate that we place major emphasis on land transport. In the last three months alone, there were over three accidents which killed more than ten (10) people each. This is not acceptable, and decisive interventions are needed to arrest this scourge.
Having said this, work being done in the aviation industry must never be neglected. The aviation industry remains an important input in the growing tourism industry, and contributes significantly to the country's effort to position itself as a preferred investment destination. Also, the efforts by SOCs such as the Airport Company of South Africa (ACSA) and the Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) to find new investment destinations outside the country will depend on the work that they do at home to ensure a safe and reliable aviation transport environment.
At the same time, the South African Maritime Service Agency (SAMSA) should continue work with other state agencies such as South African Navy to promote the safety of individuals and property at sea, while the department develops a medium to long term maritime industrial development strategy.
His Excellency President Jacob Zuma, in his State of the Nation Address in February 2012, announced a massive infrastructure programme with transport as one of the key drivers of the economy. Amongst others, the infrastructure programme is foregrounded in the following principles:
Improving infrastructure links with rural and poor provinces;
Scaling up investment in infrastructure across the country;
Balancing the development of new infrastructure with the maintenance of the existing one; and
Addressing capacity challenges and improving coordination and integration.
As part of the infrastructure programme, a significant amount of financial resources have been allocated to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to acquire new rolling stock over a ten year period. As you may be aware, the current rolling stock is more than fifty years old, and it is no longer viable to meet current and future social and economic realities of a changing South Africa.
The acquisition of the new rolling stock will also include the upgrade of the current rail infrastructure, including stations in our main cities and towns. In the short term, immediate measures will also be undertaken to improve safety and reliability of our trains.
This massive investment in the rail infrastructure is also expected to reduce congestions on our roads and the cost of road maintenance.
In addition to the rolling stock, the transport portfolio will also play a critical role in the Durban-Free State-Gauteng logistics and industrial corridor, as well as in efforts to unlock economic opportunities in the North West Province. The deployment of a safe and reliable transport infrastructure will add impetus to the following projects:
Unlocking the Northern Mineral Belt with Waterberg as the catalyst;
Durban-Free State-Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor;
South Eastern node and Corridor Development;
Unlocking the economic opportunities in the North West Province;
Saldanha-Northern Cape Development Corridor, and
Integrated Municipal Infrastructure Projects
The department and the affected State Owned Companies will contribute to pursue these initiatives as part of the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordination Commission (PICC) which is hard at work to ensure that we move with the necessary speed. The PICC framework gives us a blueprint of transport projects over the next few years in the spheres of roads, rail and public transport infrastructure development and services.
Almost all sectors of our economy use roads to transport goods across the country. A significant amount of goods are transported by road and this will continue to increase Until we make necessary interventions, more pressure will be exerted on the current road infrastructure and will lead to further congestion, and consequently the cost of goods and services. South Africa has a total of road network of almost 750-thousand Kilometres of which 17-thousand Kilometres is managed by South African National Road Agency Ltd (SANRAL) which needs to be maintained from time to time.
While the investment in the rail infrastructure is expected to complement the already burdened roads, specific investments on the road infrastructure will also be undertaken.
Through the S'hamba Sonke Project, government will speed up the initiative to maintain the existing road infrastructure across all provinces.
It is envisaged that the implementation of S'hamba Sonke will also contribute to massive job creation, thereby contributing towards poverty eradication. During our recent meeting of the Minister and the MECs responsible for transport, we made a commitment to accelerate the implementation of S'hamba Sonke.
Further endeavours will also be implemented to improve the road public transport. Many accidents on our roads are caused by public transport operators, both buses and taxis. One of the challenges we face relates to the lack of courtesy in our roads. In addition to improving the visibility of traffic police on our roads, road users must all take responsibility. A new consciousness is needed to inculcate the culture of courtesy on our roads, and this should be driven by all stakeholders, and cannot be left at the hands of government alone.
The public transport sector is geared for a fundamental restructuring with the review of the existing bus subsidy scheme to include mini-bus taxis. About 45-thousand old taxi vehicles have been scrapped at a cost of R2.3bn out of an initial target of 12-thousand old minibus taxis.
After ten (10) years of implementing the Taxi Recapitalisation programme, we are now ready to enter a new environment. It is envisaged that government's approach to the taxi industry and public transport in general will include encouraging the banks and others in the financial industry to invest and support the growth of the industry.
The inclusion of the mini-bus taxis in the subsidy scheme will foreground government's approach to the post recapitalisation programme. Government is committed to make this a reality. But the bus and the taxi industry must also come to the party. Going forward, we will strengthen penalties to ensure that the buses and the mini-buses that receive subsidies adhere to certain stringent rules. It is not acceptable for passengers to travel in buses without windows or seats while massive state resources are being pumped into the bus companies.
With regard to the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, I wish to state that Government has welcomed the ruling of the Constitutional Court, while we remain committed to engaging all concerned stakeholders. Since the ruling, we have met with a number of interested parties and consultations are continuing.
Regulations pertaining to the exemptions to be granted and the tariffs will be subjected to extensive public consultations. The regulations will be published in the Government Gazette within the next few days. I urge all the citizens of Gauteng to take active interest and participate by submitting written comments.
About Twelve (12) cities in South Africa are involved in the implementation of rapid public transport networks. Polokwane, Rustenburg, Mbombela and Pietermaritzburg are some of the cities, in addition to the Metros, that are involved in the rollout of the rapid public transport infrastructure. About R5billion has been allocated in the 2012/13 financial year for this project. Further financial allocations for the 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial years have also been confirmed.
It important that government's programmes also seek to redress the prevailing disparities between communities. Emdeni is one of the townships that have benefited from government's programme to extend transport infrastructure and services to all. The project entailed the widening of the Bolani Road from Koma Street in Jabulani to Emndeni Bridge at a cost of about R60m. A total of 133 jobs were created. 99 individuals in the area were also trained in various skills such as painting lanes, installation and maintenance of guard rails, occupational health and safety. We need to learn and build on this experience as we seek to implement similar initiatives in other townships and rural areas.
In conclusion, I wish to encourage all stakeholders and the public to participate in the activities of the October Transport Month. Let us use this opportunity to look back as we plan ahead.
I wish to thank the Department Transport, SOCs and agencies, as well as the provincial departments of transport for making it possible for us to develop this programme.
Special thanks to the Deputy Minister of Transport and the MECs for your continued support and assistance.
Issued by: Department of Transport
1 Oct 2012
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