Chairperson and hon members, I stand here on behalf of the Minister of Transport, who is abroad on government business. After the publication of the White Paper on the National Transport Policy in 1996 the National Land Transport Transition, Act 22 of 2000, was promulgated, together with other related legislation. It then came into effect in December 2000 and constituted ground-breaking legislation in various areas involving land transport. The Act was transitional because certain issues required finalisation at the time, including funding, conversion of permits for public transport services to operate into licences, and registration of minibus taxi associations and operators.
Since 1996 the National Land Transport Policy has evolved and the Act needs revision. Areas of the National Land Transport Translation Act, NLTTA, that require revision include the following: The new public strategy and action plan approved by Cabinet in 2007 must be applied along with other policy documents that have appeared since 2000. Concerning a new dispensation for tourist transport, I want to say that concerns of provinces, industry associations and so on need to be accommodated.
The NLTTA is now due for transformation into a final Act. Policy documents and reports, which have appeared since the 1996 White Paper, were collected and analysed, and interviews have been held with a wide range of stakeholders, experts and interested parties at the cutting edge of transport service delivery.
Research indicated that the fundamental approach is formulated in the White Paper and the NLTTA has not been substantially changed. For example, regulations of road-based transport services must be plan-based. Functions executed by various institutions in all three spheres of government should be combined where possible and rationalised. Municipal planning authorities should also be responsible for execution, rationalisation of services, and management of funds. Consolidation of responsibilities, by assignment if necessary, should be pursued to achieve the aforementioned goals.
The national and provincial spheres should retain policy setting, co- ordinating, monitoring, supervising and funding functions. The legislation should promote uniformity and avoid a plethora of diverse provincial and local laws. Accordingly, a national land transport strategy document, as input for the drafting of the Bill, was prepared and discussed with stakeholders and the Bill is based on that strategy document. The purpose of the Bill is to provide for the final transformation restructuring of the national land transport system. The main focus of the Bill is public passenger transport, which is defined as including all land transport modes, namely road as well as rail.
The Bill does not deal with rail institutional and infrastructural issues as these will be dealt with later on in specific rail legislation. It provides for the incorporation of rail service level planning and liaison between planning authorities and the South African Rail Commuter Corporation.
The Bill does not generally deal with freight issues except in regard to planning freight routes, and routes for transporting dangerous goods. When the Bill was published for comment in the Government Gazette and a participative workshop was held, a number of institutional issues were raised mainly by the National Treasury and by Gauteng and Western Cape provinces.
The concept in the NLTTA of having transport authorities as distinct legal entities has not been adopted by most metropolitan municipalities and aspirant metros, and has proved to be problematic in the light of local government legislation that appeared after the NLTTA. The Department of Provincial and Local Government identified the need for the terms "public transport" and "municipal public transport" that appear in Schedule 4 of the Constitution to be defined in more detail. Intensive discussions with the DPLG followed and the following changes were made to the Bill at the committee stage: the concept of transport authorities has been deleted from the Bill; municipal transport functions will be executed by the appropriate categories of municipalities to which other national and provincial functions can be assigned in terms of the Constitution. The Bill now contains more detailed provisions on the role of the different spheres of government. Two issues to note in this regard are the following: The bar subsidy function which is situated at national level at present in relation to existing bar contracts, and is executed by the provinces on a basis of delegation, may be assigned to appropriate municipalities by the Minister. This is subject to section 156 (4) of the Constitution and sections 9 and 10 of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, 2000. In the meantime they will remain with the provinces.
The functions relating to operating licenses which are currently executed by the provincial operating licence boards will be assigned to appropriate metropolitan municipalities and aspirant metros by the Minister. This is to achieve the objective of the strategy document to consolidate functions and promote accountability. Hon Chair, thank you very much, and I commend the Bill to the House. [Applause.]
Thank you very much, but before I call the next speaker, somebody just wanted to know why we did not vote. For us to pass the Bill in the House we need 50+1 present in the House. So, at the time that the interjection was made we did not have the numbers; we were 140 in the House. We needed to have 201 members sitting in the House before any question can be put. That is what happened. Because the required number was 201, there was no need to vote since the presence was there to give legitimacy to the Bill, that indeed the NA did pass the Bill within the 50+1 as required by the law. That is why the bells were rung and people had to be brought in.
Chairperson, I thank the Acting Minister of Transport.
It is common cause that public transport generally in South Africa is in a very parlous state. The National Household Travel Survey of a few years back told us, I think, what we all know, and that is that there are very high levels of legitimate dissatisfaction with the public transport that is available particularly to working class and poor people.
The question is: Why? Well, the first part of an answer is obviously the legacy that we have inherited. There was a neglect of infrastructure and the abandonment of state responsibilities in terms of providing public transport over many decades. There is the reality of apartheid cities which is still with us today; the spatial realities of South Africa, in which the poor and working class are scattered and marginalised and very far away from places of work. Yes, I agree with you; the legacy is a real issue, but we can't just complain about it. We must answer and take responsibility for finding answers.
So, the next question is: Are we spending enough money? And, Minister of Finance, we actually are spending a lot of money on public transport. We spend R3 billion every year on operating subsidies for Metrorail and another R3 billion on bus subsidies every year for operating subsidies. Whether the money is going in the right directions and is effectively spent, I think, is a moot question. We are committed to spending R7 billion over several years on the taxi recapitalisation process. We are spending R25, or is it R27, or is it more than R30 billion, on Gautrain. So, I don't particularly think personally that the money issue is the core issue.
The problems that we are confronted with in the institutional realm and have to do with systemic factors. Now, way back in the first democratic government, the Moving South Africa policy document correctly said that in order to have effective public transport, you need to integrate public transport. Different modes need to talk to each other, and different modes need to do what is appropriate. It is ridiculous to have a minibus running from Khayelitsha to Cape Town or from Orange Farm to the centre of Johannesburg. It is fuel inefficient, it is business inefficient but you need minibuses to be doing what minibuses do well, and so you need to integrate your systems. Yes, you need to have space for the private sector to do business in terms of public transport, but they can't be competing against each other on the routes, sometimes literally with AK 47s, and at other times undermining each other through three different modes running on the same route, making all of them unsustainable, hence the need for major operational subsidies.
You need to plan public transport and you need to align your public transport planning with all of your other planning, for instance, with where you are locating your housing development and where your shopping mall is going up, where the administrative institutions are located. You need also to allocate operating licences in terms of what you are planning. It is no good simply handing out operating licences willy-nilly to operators, with no bearing whatsoever on the kind of planning that you are trying to do within your towns and cities. And, therefore, in order to do those things, you need to locate planning, regulation, licensing and financing as much as possible within one sphere, within one place.
Now the National Land Transport Transition Act of 2000 envisaged transport authorities in order to try to locate these functions as much as possible within one place. It also talked a lot, and correctly so, about integrated transport plans and required, as we do, municipalities and cities to draft integrated transport plans. It also said that we needed to convert this reality that we have out there, of minibuses having life-long permits to operate, and bus companies assuming that a particular route is theirs forever and ever. We need to have tendered contracts. In other words, contracts where there are service levels required; where, if you are subsidising a service, there needs to be a quid pro quo, there needs to be a good service, and it needs to be well monitored and well regulated by public authorities.
Well, the National Land Transport Transition Act was well intentioned, but it has not really worked, quite honestly. It envisaged, as I say, transport authorities. Only one transport authority has been launched in Ethekwini, and the experience there is very uneven and it behaves as if it has an unfunded mandate. In other places, we have seen provinces and cities trying to combine to form some kind of hybrid transport authority, and that has not worked either.
The problem is that the core functions remain scattered. So, subsidies for buses from the national Budget go to provinces and the provinces administer them, but the way in which they administer those bus subsidies often has scant regard for what the cities, for instance, are planning in terms of their integrated transport plans. In one case - I wish to mention this - in one province they are providing subsidies to a private company and are actively undermining the operations of the municipally owned metro bus company.
When we go into cities, as we have as a committee, to have a look at their 2010 plans, we find wonderful planning and wonderful PowerPoint presentations on all of the routes that they are planning and so on, but they very often don't have enough resources and the subsidies that provinces are applying don't talk to the planning. So, we get all kinds of clashes.
As we speak now, in terms of the critical connection for instance - to use one of many examples - between Cape Town International Airport and Cape Town, critical for 2010 and the success of 2010, we have three competing projects underway. There is a national project led by Metrorail, planning to connect its Metrorail system to the airport. We have persuaded them here in Parliament that even their own budgeting reflects that it's not going to be ready for 2010. We haven't persuaded them yet that their feasibility study suggests that it's going to fly in terms of sustainability either.
Three weeks ago, the province here in the Western Cape announced tenders for a bus shuttle service between the city and the international airport. Meanwhile, the city is planning a wonderful - and it's what we are supporting at a national level - integrated rapid public transport system in, which one important leg is the leg between a bus rapid transit connection between the airport and the city and further network. So, we have incoherence and this is what is really causing serious problems.
Now, the Constitution, as the Acting Minister said, has not helped on this front. In the schedules of the Constitution, public transport is designated as a national and provincial concurrent competence, but in another schedule, it goes on to say that municipal public transport is a municipal competence. Now, where does municipal transport begin and end, and where does other public transport begin and end? It is not easy. And that is what we have tried to do here in this Bill. We have tried to sort this out because, in sorting this out, we think we will sort out all the other complications and practical systemic problems that we have.
We have, in this Bill, extended very extensive functions in terms of public transport to the municipal sphere. We think that this is by and large where public transport is going to succeed or fail. So, we have extended them, but we also recognise that many municipalities don't have capacities, skills and resources and therefore we don't want to make all of these functions inherent constitutional functions of cities. We would like to, but we realised that if we did that, we might actually collapse what we are trying to achieve.
So, what we have said is that operating licencing and subsidies are a national competence or function but must be assigned to the appropriate level where and when possible, and the appropriate level in particular. The intention of this Act, and of the national department, is to very quickly now devolve subsidies and operating licencing functions to our major cities and towns in order to meet the challenges of 2010. We have to move very quickly on this.
I would like, in closing, to thank the team from the Department of Transport, led by Jits Patel. This has been a very complicated process. I would like to thank our colleagues from Treasury and the Department of Provincial and Local Government who played a really constructive role in helping us to get this right. The SA Cities Network also played, I think, a very important role, as did many others. Thanks go to all of them.
I think that we are on the threshold, finally, of beginning a new era in public transport in South Africa. It won't dawn all at once, but certainly in our major cities there are marvellous plans now for rolling out effective public transport - the integrated rapid public transport systems. This legislation, I am convinced, will help to liberate these important efforts. Thank you, Chairperson. The ANC obviously supports this Bill. [Applause.]
Chairperson, I am delivering this speech on behalf of my colleague, the hon Stewart Farrow, who is recuperating after undergoing major surgery. [Interjections.] Yes, that's why I got the quorum. The Bill before us is a hybrid of the National Land Transport Transition Act, which laid the foundation for restructuring and formalising of the public transport entities that are now operating throughout the country, and in particular the taxi industry.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since this Act was promulgated in the year 2000 and many problems had to be dealt with. However, after a slow start, the Department of Transport had to learn by experience about the complexities of delivering an efficient, safe and affordable transport system that catered for all of the South African commuting public. The Bill now presented has, hopefully, learnt from these experiences, and provides further processes of the transformation and restructuring of the national land transport system.
During the proactive and vigorous process of public hearings on the Bill, the Bill, in its final form, was considerably changed from the one gazetted for public comment earlier this year. The reason for this is threefold. Firstly, the department unsuccessfully attempted unprocedurally to change the principal responsibility of public transport from that of constitutionally assigned local government to that of provincial government. This was clearly undertaken with the mandate of a few provinces, with the view to undermine one of the only metros where they did not have political control.
Secondly, the National Treasury was not happy with the funding arrangements proposed for land transport at national, provincial and municipal levels and, as a result, two of the sections have now been omitted. Thirdly, the whole aspect of the need for designated planning authorities was reconsidered and also omitted from the Bill. Thus, common sense prevailed and the Bill now seems set to lay the foundation for the implementation of public transport systems in the majority of those of our metros and host cities for the 2010 Fifa World Cup that have completed their transport systems. Clause 11 of the revised Bill spells out the roles and the responsibilities of the three spheres of government in order to clear the way for the who- and-how part of the delivery mechanism of this service. Linking onto this, Clause 12 spells out the intergovernmental relations, which provinces may have to enter into where joint exercises of the respective powers and functions need to be performed. This clause also applies to adjacent municipalities who may agree on joint transport initiatives in the interest of efficiency and expediency.
One of the most crucial issues, which the Bill addressed in the form of the new clause, was that of the inefficient and bureaucratic operating licence functions and how they could be properly administrated. These operating permits have long been the big problem of getting buses and taxis on the road, sometimes taking 18 months or more from application to issue. Clause 17 of the Bill now places this responsibility in the hands of every municipality, to which the operating licence function has been assigned by the Minister and that is where it should be.
Finally, let me thank the portfolio chairperson for the professional manner in which he handled the Bill in such a short time. It forms a good foundation to build on and for that reason the DA will be supporting this Bill. Thank you.
Chairperson, this is an important initiative, which will create a clear framework to implement this legislation. It will make transport convenient for the large part of our population. The municipalities will play an important role. Our concern is the smaller and rural municipalities, which may not have the capacity and financial resources to implement this legislation.
All spheres of government will be involved, namely national, provincial and local government. We believe that provincial governments will be able to assist municipalities that experience difficulties. This Bill will also help to reduce competition between different spheres of government as each sphere has its own responsibility.
Cross-municipality boundaries and their travel arrangements need greater co- operation with the affected municipalities, and provincial governments will be able to play a proper facilitating role in this matter. The national public transport regulator will be established. The Bill ensures that the regulator will be impartial. It is important that the regulator appoints an experienced technical committee.
We need to continue to engage the mini-bus taxi industry and look at their inputs. Much has been done. However, much has still to be done. They have to be made aware of the National Land Transport Bill and what it intends to achieve. There are concerns about subsidies and temporary permits, amongst others. I would also like to say a very big thank you to the chairperson, because he has handled this very well. The IFP supports the Bill. Thank you.
Chairperson, this Bill seeks to restructure the national land transport system in an integrated manner. The main focus of the Bill is on public passenger transport, which includes all forms of land transport, road as well as rail. It also addresses issues that arose from the taxi recapitalisation scheme, as well as concerns arising from the tourism industry around operating licences.
Now, the ACDP welcomes the significant amendments added by the portfolio committee following the Department of Provincial and Local Government's discussions to clarify the constitutional inconsistencies regarding the function of providing public transport by the three spheres of government. As pointed out by the portfolio chairperson, it is incoherent to have three competing spheres of government seeking to provide public transport in the run-up to the World Cup, as indicated in the example that he used of transport between Cape Town's airport and Cape Town.
So, we trust that the Bill will facilitate the provision of safe and reliable public transport, particularly in view of the high levels of dissatisfaction with existing public transport. We have noticed, and we welcome, the fact that there are inconsistencies, which are clarified by those definitions that are not clearly set out. The ACDP will support this Bill. Thank you very much.
Chairperson, the MF is extremely pleased with the introduction of this Bill and the issues of land transport that it addresses. Many challenges exist in making road safety an initiative for all commuters, but, unfortunately, we still have irresponsible drivers that claim lives on a daily basis.
Further, it is an unfortunate truth that government officials remain to be tempted into bribery and corruption. A few years ago the issue of illegal, fake licences was highlighted, but today the problem continues and many remain on our roads with bought licences. We think that the renewal of licences is a sure way of smoking out all the perpetrators.
Another concern is the number of not-so-roadworthy vehicles on the roads and the question is: How do they remain on the roads? In Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal we have had increased roadblocks and we believe that there needs to be a national project to make our roads safer. The MF supports the National Land Transport Bill. I thank you, Chair.
Chairperson, I stand here to support the chairperson of the committee and the department for asking the House to approve this Bill. I want to mention that one of the most important steps we had to take in processing this Bill was to beat back efforts by the nine provinces to change the Bill as originally passed by the Cabinet.
Between the Bill leaving Cabinet and reaching the committee, or shortly thereafter, they got together and studied the Bill. They felt that the Bill was seeking to take from provinces, up to national level and down to municipalities. They reinserted all that had previously given them powers and discretion over municipalities and a hold on subsidies, etc. I think that was the most important thing.
For me, this points to the need to return to this matter insofar as the constitutional provisions and the systems Act are concerned, aspects of which have actually limited our ability to really free up the municipalities so that they can deal with the realities of the people over which they preside, the people they serve and the people they account to. I want to say that for me that is the most important thing.
What this Bill does is to take us forward significantly, but it represents incomplete work and the work is incomplete because we were limited by the Constitution and the systems Act.
The Polokwane resolutions of the ANC, taken at the 52nd conference, recognise that more than half of the poor live in rural communities. The majority of the poor in these rural communities are women. Yet in these rural communities - which are mainly your former Bantustans - there is no infrastructure, particularly road infrastructure, and this limits the ability of people to sustain any livelihood. This limits the ability of rural municipalities to play a catalytic role or to be an agent for change and the delivery of a better life in the rural communities.
Therefore, our argument is that, as far as possible, we should work towards a future where the standards will be set nationally, without the possibility of nine different substandards being developed by provinces. With such standards having been set, there would be implementation at local level.
The rural transport strategy of the department envisages rural transport infrastructure. They say that this infrastructure should not only include access roads, but also district roads, public transport interchanges, tracks and other nonmotorised transport infrastructure.
The Bill provides for the maintenance of municipal roads within municipalities. All of these things would require that the necessary funds and resources are transferred to municipalities. However, the most important resource in being able to support the decisions that are taken is the decision-making space and the money.
So, we may be limited by what we have in front of us insofar as attaining the vision that we expressed in Polokwane and attaining the rural transport strategy are concerned. However, we believe that this is work in progress; we shall get there.
We should also be locating this discussion about transport within the overall review of the functions and roles of provinces and municipalities. We believe that there is a need for this discussion to be talking to the process that provisional local government is currently busy with.
As I have said, we may have to return so as to deal with the constitutional limitations and the limitations of the systems Act. The matter of assignment and concurrency has by now, after 14 years, proven to be a very problematic area in that very often you may be left with discretion at provincial level. But, having been in a province for about 10 years, we notice that there tends to be reluctance, particularly on the part of provinces, to assign to municipalities those functions and powers that are prescribed for assignment.
So, we would want to limit - as far as possible in the future - this issue of assignment when a municipality is ready. There's always a tendency to question the readiness of municipalities. The fact that there's a provision in the current Bill that any municipality may request the Minister or MEC to assign the functions contemplated in 1(a) or 1(b), subject to section 156(4) of the Constitution, etc, shows you that a municipality can declare its readiness for any amount of time in any amount of words, but if the MEC is not ready to assign, they may hold back.
The chairperson has referred to the problem that we see in the Western Cape provincial administration, the Cape Metro, etc. There are many other such examples, but our central message here is that we should free up transport for local planning, local accountability, local participation by communities and so on. This we should do through legislative, constitutional and institutional reforms, and thus we would also be creating a platform for serious rural development and serious maintenance of livelihoods in the rural areas.
Perhaps we would then be able to reduce rural poverty and the migration to cities, which creates other pressures on the cities as well as the apparent need for more transport infrastructure. In fact, this could have been avoided or prevented by providing serious transport infrastructure and transport services, with the authority given to the municipalities and the people of the rural areas. That is what we have attempted to provide for, but we believe that a lot still has to be done to achieve more complete space and more complete empowerment for municipalities and the rural communities. Perhaps if we do so, we shall achieve the vision of Polokwane.
On behalf of the committee, I support the chairperson and the Bill. Thank you.
Chairperson, I thank all the members for their unanimous support of this Bill. I also wish to thank the officials from the Department of Transport who tried very hard to educate me about the intricacies of public transport for purposes of presenting this Bill, and the other three Bills yesterday. I must say they didn't succeed. They didn't get very far. In terms of that, I am still as ignorant as when they first tried. Probably they can't teach. But nevertheless, they tried very hard. Thank you very much, hon Chair.
Bill read a second time.
Hon members, as agreed at the programme committee meeting of 14 August, Orders No 5 and 7 will be taken together.