Budget Vote speech by Free State MEC for Public Works, Roads and Transport, Mr Seiso Mohai
Honourable Mr. Speaker
Honourable Premier Ms. Beatrice Marshoff
Colleagues in the Executive Council
Honourable Members of the Legislature
Mayors and other representatives of local government
Other distinguished guests
Comrades and Friends
Over the last ten years we have patiently and painstakingly steered the course. We have boldly confronted socio-economic challenges arising from centuries of injustice, oppression and exploitation.
As we were celebrating the first decade of freedom a month ago, we paused and observed that we emerged tempered, determined and with an undying hope of a better life for all.
We have over the last ten years used the budget to deal with our painful legacy. Our budget became an instrument through which we fought poverty and created jobs.
Our budget policy debate takes place almost three weeks after the President's State of the Nation Address, a call to action that has identified priorities and outlined the line of march for all organs of state and government departments within the context of the present Medium Term Expenditure Frame-Work.
The ANC's 2004 Election Manifesto "A people's contract to create work and fight poverty", constituted the basis of the new government's mandate from the electorate and that it would be adopted as the Department's guiding document for the next decade.
The Department would contribute to meeting the country's target of reducing unemployment and poverty in South Africa during this second decade.
The Reconstruction and Development Program is the bedrock upon which we are today continuing to rebuild our country in conditions of turbulent international and global change. Meeting basic needs; human resource development; democratising the state and society; restructuring and building the economy; peace and security; nation building and doing all these in an integrated people-driven and people-cantered manner remain our key tasks.
Employment creation would be at the centre of the Department's interventions and strategies, and that the poor would be at the centre of Department's service delivery efforts.
In tackling the challenges of fighting poverty and creating work, the Department will work with all stakeholders, sectors of civil society and all communities in a "People's contract to build a better life for all". In realising this challenge the Department will come up with concrete programs, implementation strategies and evaluation criteria around Job creation and fighting poverty.
In preparing the Departments budget vote for 2004/2005, the driving force was to ensure a better life for all; hence the following were given special focus:
- Capital improvement
- Service delivery improvement
- Job creation and SMME development
- Poverty alleviation
- Expanded Public Works Programme
- Urban Renewal and
- Integrated Sustainable Rural Development
The Department's priorities are informed by the Presidents observations in his state of the nation address on February 6, 2004, that whilst progress has been made by the dawn of democracy in our country, a vast number of our communities remain trapped in poverty and joblessness.
Conscious of these directives from the President and also aware of the Provincial goals as articulated by the Premier, it is, indeed, a pleasure to reflect on how the Department has located these imperatives within its programs.
Mr. Speaker, for this Financial Year (2004/2005), an amount of R783 180 million has been allocated to the Department. This represents 2.9% increase from the previous Financial Year (2003/2004) of R761 37 million. It is important to mention that 47% namely R366 million of this amount is for Personnel while the remaining R417 million is directed towards projects.
A strong administrative base is of cardinal importance for an institution that is responsible to lead job creation efforts. The functions provided by this Programme are embedded in a strong legislative framework and operate as an integrated system in line with best practices, thereby ensuring good governance and for this an amount of R125 859 million is allocated. The provision of a conducive environment enables line management to optimise its outputs and focus on the Department's core functions to provide an efficient service to clients and communities, which will remain a focus of this Programme during this financial year.
In an attempt to enhance our service delivery, a service delivery improvement plan encompassing the Batho Pele principles will be implemented at Lengau Testing Station as a pilot study from 1 October 2004 thereafter rolled out to various registration authorities
To increase accessibility of our services, 16 post offices are now offering the registration of vehicles function. A study is been conducted to assess the possibility of increasing the number of post offices in the current year.
To provide impetus to the new training and development framework in South Africa, the department will during this financial year implement an integrated web-based management system in respect of performance and development management, skills development, knowledge management and employment equity. This system promises inter alia to provide integrated management information on all the focused areas.
In line with the Department's workplace skills plan, bursaries will in the current financial year, be awarded for scarce occupations such as engineering and related professions as well as transport economics.
Whist considerable progress has been made on employment equity at Senior Management level, our critical challenge is on the Middle Management. We will commit ourselves to meet our target by March 2005.
Based on the challenges posed by the impact of HIV/AIDS the department will undertake the following programs:
- Implementation of the Employment Assistance Policy and programme to ensure support to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS
- Monitor implementation of the Departmental HIV/AIDS Strategy
- Forge stronger partnerships across all sectors to deal with the challenges of HIV/AIDS in a more co-ordinated fashion.
Mr. Speaker in acknowledging the importance of both internal and external communication, as the key measure to assess the impact of feedback to and from the employees and members of the public the department will undertake the following measures:
- Reviewing and monitoring the implementation of the service delivery improvement plan
- Conduct road shows throughout the province, to enhance implementation of Batho Pele principles and improve service delivery.
- Measure overall external customer satisfaction by way of annual surveys
- Conduct impact assessment surveys of programmes implemented
The Department will also provide special programmes for the survival, development, care and protection of previously marginalised people by embarking on the following projects:
- Empower women/youth and people with disabilities, SMMEs and HDIs on bidding procedures, business and financial management throughout the five regions of the Province
Mr. Speaker, as far as the roads infrastructure is concerned, the department will align the provisioning and maintenance of our road network with the strategies of the Free State Development Plan as well as Vision 2014. In line with this we have allocated R298 521 million.
The focus for the 2004/05 financial years will be as follows:
- Improve accessibility to rural communities; Selosesha, Meqheleng, Oppermansgronde road, and Makwane roads will be undertaken and completed.
- Identify the most appropriate strategic road network for the province, which will support road safety, tourism and socio economic development with the minimum impact on the environment. Towards this end; Maluti trans frontier project, which will integrate Golden Gate Resort, Mountain Resort and KwaZulu- Natal, will be undertaken together with National Department of Transport
- Investigate alternative mechanisms of service delivery through road worker empowerment program.
- Develop and implement appropriate Infrastructure Legislation through a comprehensive revision of the current Roads Ordinance and Ribbon Development.
- Give preference to preventive maintenance instead of routine maintenance so as to ensure effective utilisation of scarce resources.
- Facilitate the development of an appropriate Institutional Framework, which will enhance service delivery and co-operative governance through the restructuring of Road Building Equipment, Road Planning as well as construction and maintenance with a view of enhancing capacity of municipalities.
The following road construction projects will be initiated during the 2004/05 financial years:
- Vaalpark interchange at Sasolburg;
- The re-gravelling of roads in the Bethlehem area;
- The repair and reseal of the Excelsior-Clocolan-Tweespruit road.
- The repair and reseal of the first ten km of the Bloemfontein-Dealesville road will be completed in the current financial year.
Mr. Speaker, it is common course that public transport plays an important and critical role in our economy. The nature of public transport infrastructure and operations has a bearing on the daily lives of communities who use public transport to travel between homes and places of work; learning and recreation. We are challenged in cooperation with national; local authorities and private sector to provide our communities with affordable; reliable and safe public transport. Acknowledging the challenges that we are faced with and the importance of public transport we have assigned an amount of R18 224 million.
Towards this end, the Free State Transport Bill has been compiled to replace the Free State Interim Transport Act 1998. The envisaged Bill will address the problem of duplication of laws and ensure that there is a single law applicable to busses; taxis and all other modes of public transport.
It is important Mr. Speaker that institutions of Government work in unison to create a wall-to-wall service vehicle for the members of the public. The Department in conjunction with both Motheo District and Mangaung Local Municipalities will complete a Rationalisation Plan to eliminate duplication of transport services, which will culminate in the design of the new subsidised bus services in the Mangaung area.
Further Mr. Speaker, the department with the Mangaung local municipality will launch a Transport Authority that will go a long way in addressing the functional apportionment and duplication of services among several institutions.
Our commitment towards addressing the problem of rural transport could be depicted in partnership with the Department of Education in formalising the scholar transport for learners travelling further than 6km from their place of residence.
The "shova ka lula" and rural scholar transport bicycles project has been extended to create jobs for the disabled associations in the Thaba-Nchu and Bloemfontein areas. These associations act as outlets centres for selling and repairing of bicycles, thus acting as job creation for people living with disabilities.
The urban decay as well as the urban sprawl as manifested in the Bloemfontein CBD will in partnership with Local Authority through an already initiated innovative plan be addressed in the current financial year. In this regard a proposal for the construction of an Inter-modal facility, which will encompass all public transport modes including rail, will be considered.
This proposal will not only address the problem of urban renewal but will be critical enabler for the investment in order to be ready for the 2010 transport challenges.
Further the revival of under utilisation of rail transport between Bloemfontein and Thaba-Nchu will form part of the inter-modal facility, where Mr. Speaker we will call upon the private sector to partner us in the development of the said public transport facility. The fore-going project will also serve as vehicle for Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment.
It is our commitment in pursuance to our people's contract to reduce the cost of doing business with the transport sector. In this regard we will develop an integrated commuter and passenger rail strategy for the Free State Province as a whole.
Towards this end, we intend to:
- Undertake an investigation into the viability and sustainability of using existing rail infrastructure in more urbanised areas (such as Mangaung District Municipality and Matjhabeng Local Municipality) for the introduction and operation of commuter rail services. This will be done together with the SARCC, local authorities, Bus companies and Taxi Industry.
- To liase with Spoornet in their attempt to increase freight capacity by 30% over the next five years.
The recapitalisation process which is a national initiative, provides for the replacement of approximately 97 000 aging taxi fleet with the newly purpose-built vehicles with carrying capacity of 18-35 seaters. This process will continue in the province with all stakeholders on board and enable the department to realise its vision of an industry that can provide safe and affordable transport; unity; free of violence; empowered; profitable and dynamic.
We are proud Mr. Speaker, to announce that the department has completed the democratisation and formalisation processes thus it is deemed to be ready for the rollout of the recapitalisation process.
The taxi permits conversion programme is probably one of the most critical elements that will be addressed in this financial year.
Through this process all legal operators will be issued with operating licences that reflect the respective route or routes that they will be allowed to operate on. This should greatly reduce the potential for conflict, as there would no longer be a dispute about routes or operators who operate in the wrong areas. This process will further assist the authorities and the industry to identify areas that are not properly covered with public transport or those that are over supplied.
As part of our intervention plan, Mr. Speaker, to address traffic crashes that leads to deaths; fatal injuries and costs the South African economy an estimated R13, 8 billion a year the department together with Mangaung Municipality will within two months be launching a court dedicated to traffic offences. This is a clear commitment to ensure that we reduce the loss of human potential, the pain and suffering of crash victims and the grief of bereaved families in our province.
In pursuance to the objectives of the Road to Safety Strategy, the law enforcement will be carried out through the deployment of satellite traffic management centres on the N1 and N3. Further, structured and unstructured roadblocks will be manned with specific focus on un-roadworthiness of vehicles and driver behaviour. To achieve our objectives in respect of road safety the department has committed R113 394 million.
In an endeavour to enhance safe travelling as well as increasing visibility of law enforcement, 50 traffic officials will be appointed as from the 01 July 2004.
In an attempt to curb the escalation of road rage on our provincial roads, five-high-performance vehicles fully equipped with advanced modern technology for both speed and alcohol testing equipments will be purchased during the financial year.
Community involvement and participation which starts out from the youngest of our school children and end with organised passengers, mobilised communities and committed road safety forums is of cardinal importance on road safety education.
It is against this background that in the current financial year together with the Department of Education, we will accelerate the implementation of road safety education for all learners from pre-school level through to Grade 9, within the framework of the "life skills" programme.
Mr. Speaker, we are called upon as the department to lead job creation, principally through the Expanded Public Works Programme. The aim of this programme is to focus on the Workers and Unemployed, particularly those who are marginalised from the mainstream of our economy. This is a comprehensive inter-governmental, people-centred programme to create a better life for all.
An important element of the programme is a large-scale expansion of the use of labour-intensive construction methods to build, upgrade and maintain the social and economic infrastructure in all the under-developed rural and urban areas of our province.
An amount of R52m has been allocated to this programme in this financial year, that will among others see the creation of 10 000 jobs within the construction industry.
The Expanded Public Works Programme will be launched at the beginning of September 2004, with special focus on urban and rural nodes already identified in terms of our urban renewal and integrated and sustainable rural development programme.
We will also look at how we are to consolidate our existing programmes and integrate them into the EPWP with a view to create jobs and fight poverty through labour intensive methods.
Mr. Speaker, in compliance to the commitment of the State President's State of the Nation address,
"Arising from this, we will engage all the Sector Education and Training Authorities, the SETA's, to increase the uptake of learners and improve the focus on the skills that are in short supply. This process of engagement will be completed by the end of the year"
We are pleased to announce that the department has already engaged the Construction Education Training Authority (CETA) and an amount of R10m has been allocated for road construction and maintenance during the 1st phase and that training of 500 learners will commence during October 2004.
A memorandum of agreement between the department and CETA will be signed today; 09 June 2004. Negotiations with Public Sector Education Training Authority (SETA) and Transport Education Training Authorities (TETA) are in a process, which will culminate in the enhancement of our scarce skills.
Our Department has registered twenty (20) Learnerships with the Construction Education and Training Authority (CETA) in the field of road maintenance. Departmental staff involved, are being trained as part of the exit strategy to be SMME contractors in their own right.
Accordingly, all of us, government, business, labour and the rest of our society have to work together to ensure that our people receive the necessary education and skills so that they play their role in the process of reconstruction and development of our country into one that is as modern as any other in the world.
The following roads construction projects will be undertaken strictly according to Expanded Public Works Programme principles:
- Makwane access road in Phuthaditjhaba, in the Maluti-a-Phofung District;
- Selosesha access road in Thaba-Nchu, in the Motheo District.
Further, various projects in the social infrastructure will be undertaken in line with the principles of Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
Mr. Speaker, although Public Works aims at providing accommodation for all provincial departments; manage the provincial property portfolio and render professional and technical services to departments in respect of buildings and related infrastructure, it is important to understand that its tasks are not narrowly confined to property management and facility maintenance agent, but as an agent to improve our peoples lives through measures that included job creation. In this regard, an amount of R220 088 million is allocated.
To this end, as the department we are committed to do what is necessary to promote health environment by undertaking the following projects for the Department of Health in this financial year:
- BFN - Dr. Nelson Mandela Hospital, Occupational, Physiotherapy, eye and Palliative clinics (Motheo District)
- Thaba-Nchu Moroka Hospital, water reticulation (Motheo District)
- Odendaalsrus, Hospital upgrading (Lejweleputswa District)
- Virginia, Hospital upgrading (Lejweleputswa District)
- Boitumelo Hospital Mechanical and Electrical Infrastructure (Northern Free State District)
- Heilbron, Tokollo Hospital, Final phase (Northern Free State District)
- BFN - Medical Depot, upgrading (Motheo District)
Our experience of the past decade will be of paramount importance in promoting tourism by undertaking the following projects for the Department of Tourism, Economic and Environmental Affairs:
- Koppies, new infrastructure (Northern Free State District)
- Gariep Dam, phase II development (Xhariep District)
In facilitating learning and teaching, the following projects will be undertaken:
- Thaba-Nchu Rakanang, 3 classrooms and Thubisi 10 classrooms will be built (Motheo District)
- Bloemfontein Polokehong, 12 classrooms will be built (Motheo District)
- Virginia Marematlou, 24 classrooms will be built (Lejweleputswa District)
- Bothaville Hlaboloha, 18 classrooms will be (Lejweleputswa District)
- Welkom Mokgwabong, 20 classrooms will be built (Lejweleputswa District)
- Odendaalsrus JC Mocumi, 20 classrooms will be built (Lejweleputswa District)
We will also continue to create an environment to render care and rehabilitation. In this regard, the following projects will be undertaken on behalf of the Department of Social Development:
- Bloemfontein Monument Place of Safety, secure care (Motheo District)
- Bethlehem Sederhof, conversion into office accommodation (Thabo Mofutsanyana)
- Welkom one stop child justice centre (Lejweleputswa District)
We will continue with the provision of office accommodation to all client departments.
In this regard:
Consolidation of Head Offices within the principles of inner city rejuvenation and urban renewal will be finalised during the current financial year.
Further, the consolidation of regional offices will be undertaken on a one-stop service centre basis.
Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment is the cornerstone for our economic growth. It is a fundamental of economic empowerment for the Historically disadvantaged section of our population. Mr. Speaker, we will be looking at how to integrate our existing programs
In this regard:
- Our Department is in negotiation with the National Department of Transport for possible extension of the Interstate Bus Lines with specific conditions for the inclusion of previously marginalised transport operators in the ownership of the bus company. The outcome of such negotiations will have to take into account the inclusion of the taxis and the small bus operators as shareholders in the market.
- Phase two of Maluti Bus Service that will see the integration of the taxis in to the economic mainstream and the issuing of the taxi shares will rollout in this financial year. The discussions in this regard with the taxi leadership are at an advance stage.
- Procurement of rental accommodation will be revisited
We are under no illusion Mr. Speaker, that the challenges are daunting and that the implementation of our commitment to this house today requires, determined and coordinated action from the department and all stakeholders.
Mr. Speaker, with all these challenges facing the department and the vision outlined in this budget policy statement, we cannot continue to do things in the same way we used to do them. It therefore becomes imperative as a matter of priority that we will undertake an AUDIT of structures and systems in the department with a view to align them with the pressing priorities of the time.
Finally, let me take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the Superindent General; Mr. Ranthoko Rakgoale, the Senior Management as well as all personnel members of the Department for the support they have shown since my appointment.
I take courage from the support of the entire Mohai Family, especially my wife who has been hospitalised and couldn't join me on this historic day.
Thanks to the ANC collective for an opportunity to serve at this level of deployment.
We hope to report back to this house within a short space of time.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Public Works, Roads & Transport, Free State Provincial Government
9 June 2004