Hon Chairperson, Deputy Minister of Transport, hon Sindisiwe Chikunga; the hon chairperson of the committee, Me Dikeledi Magadzi; hon members of the Transport portfolio committee, hon members of Parliament present, distinguished guests and stakeholders, ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour and privilege for me to stand before you to present the Department of Transport Budget Vote for the 2014-15 financial year.
The budget policy statement is essentially both a blueprint and a commitment of what the ANC government, through the Department of Transport, seeks to achieve in its quest to deliver on the mandate of an efficient, safe, reliable and affordable transport service for the people of South Africa. The Deputy Minister and I have received a fresh mandate to lead the Department of Transport over the next five years and we are well aware of the expectations and aspirations of our people. We affirm the President's statement in his inauguration speech, when he said:
We accept the mandate bestowed on us by millions of our people to lead this great nation for the next five years.
We both expect that the public servants employed by the Department of Transport and its entities will deliver on government's commitments to the people of South Africa.
This 2014-15 Budget Vote presentation takes place during a period in which we have the 20-year celebration of our democracy and the milestones reached. It is also the first parliamentary session since the dawn of democracy that takes place without our stalwart and the founding father of our freedom, former President Nelson Mandela. On the occasion of his inauguration as South Africa's first democratic President, Madiba said:
We are both humbled and elevated by the honour and privilege that you, the people of South Africa, have bestowed on us, as the first President of a united, democratic, nonracial and nonsexist South Africa, to lead the country out of the valley of darkness.
We are therefore humbled to report that, 20 years later, South Africa is indeed a different and a better place to live in.
The lives of millions of our people have changed for the better. They now have access to better basic services than they had before 1994. We make these bold statements without fear of contradiction because the progress made under the ANC government is there for all to see. President Zuma is correct in his assertion that:
South Africa is a much better place to live in than before 1994, due to the transformative policies of our democratic government.
Policies and legislation under this nonracial, nonsexist democratic government have resulted in the delivery of transport services to the people of South Africa. Among some of the achievements, I count the following milestones: Here in the Western Cape, we have the MyCiTi bus rapid transit system in Cape Town; the revamped Cape Town train station; the Nyanga Junction and the upgraded Cape Town International Airport.
In Gauteng we have introduced the Rea Vaya and the A Re Yeng Bus rapid transit systems in Johannesburg and Tshwane respectively. We have radically transformed the old Jan Smuts Airport into the new O R Tambo International Airport. [Applause.] We have the rapid transport system covering the three metros. We have introduced the Gauteng improvement programme to improve the freeway network.
In KwaZulu-Natal, we built a brand-new King Shaka International Airport, as well as the Bridge City multimodal public transport facility to create a nucleus for a multisectoral approach. We have also revamped nine other airports, such as Mangaung, Mthatha, Port Elizabeth and others.
The people of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality in the Eastern Cape are set to enjoy basic rapid transport services soon as we move towards finalising the Libhongolethu bus service. Furthermore, BRT systems are coming to eThekwini, Rustenburg, Polokwane, Nelspruit and George. We also have the introduction of the new rolling stock programme, aimed at improving passenger rail transport, and the introduction of South Africa's first training ship, the SA Agulhas.
We have maintained a good domestic and international aviation safety record and in recognition of South Africa's aviation infrastructure capacity, the Airports Company Ltd of South Africa, ACSA, was appointed to do major upgrades to international airports at So Paulo in Brazil and Mumbai in India. [Applause.]
The taxi industry continues to be a key pillar of support in the public transport sphere. The industry contributes about R40 billion to the national economy each year and accounts for 300 000 direct and indirect jobs.
While the above-mentioned successes are noteworthy and should be celebrated by many, there are many people who remain on the margins of the impeccable delivery track record we have achieved. We know that many of our people still do not have access to transport infrastructure and services such as access roads and bridges, as well as safe and reliable public transport. We know of educators and learners in northern KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo who have to cross dangerous streams and rivers to make it to school. There are communities in South African where learners are prevented from going to school due to a lack of access to road infrastructure. We are aware of women who have to give birth at home simply because they cannot access health facilities on time due to bad road conditions. We have heard of constant train delays and dysfunctional signalling systems, mainly in certain parts of the Western Cape and Gauteng, resulting in commuters arriving late at their destinations.
We are aware of gross inefficiency and acts of corruption in some of our vehicle and drivers licence testing stations. To address these challenges, the Deputy Minister and I have thrown down the gauntlet to the public servants employed by the Department of Transport and its entities. We have requested them to put the interests and aspirations of their employers - the taxpayers - ahead of their own. We continue to challenge them to make a commitment to do something that will improve a life each day as they walk into their place of work.
South Africa has a total road network of at least 750 000 km. While some of the roads, particularly those in urban areas, are in a good condition and are maintained regularly, we cannot say the same of roads in other parts of our country, more so in the rural areas. We have looked at various means of achieving a sustainable programme that would see us paying regular attention to the state of our roads.
I am pleased to announce that through the provincial roads maintenance grant, otherwise known as S'hamba Sonke, we will undertake road maintenance programmes where provinces will repair damaged roads periodically.
The S'hamba Sonke roads programme will seek to achieve the following: 60% of employment and empowerment in road infrastructure to previously disadvantaged communities; 40% to be allocated to the Operation Tselantle programme, which is intended to eradicate potholes; 50% of the EPWP infrastructure and job creation targets to be met through S'hamba Sonke. We are very much alive to the concerns raised by the portfolio committee regarding capacity in municipalities and provinces. Through this programme, we currently have more than 120 civil-engineering graduates who are being trained and will later be absorbed into municipalities. [Applause.]
During the 2013-14 financial year, our national roads agency, Sanral, awarded 202 contracts for new works, rehabilitation and improvement, periodic and special maintenance, routine road maintenance, community development, supervision and other activities to the value of R11,6 billion, with R9,5 billion being spent on nontoll roads.
The SA National Roads Agency spent a total of R1,8 billion on contracts with SMMEs, of which more than R1,2 billion went to black-owned firms for both toll and nontoll roads. The budget allocation for Sanral for 2014-15 is R3,45 billion for current operations and R7,43 billion for capital infrastructure.
South Africa's world-class road agency continues to provide technical support to provinces with regard to the maintenance of roads. Sanral recently inherited several thousand kilometres of road from provinces. And independent research indicates that Sanral continues to build the best roads in the world. [Applause.]
It is important to note that of the almost 19 700 km of road under Sanral, only 3 100 kilometres is tolled, and 201 km is part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Plan. We continue to conduct reviews of the progress being made and the challenges experienced since the introduction of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project and electronic tolling in Gauteng.
Through these regular reviews, we have been able to introduce certain relief measures to lessen the burden on users. These include exemptions for public transport, medical services and people living with disabilities and those who apply for exemption and qualify in terms of the criterion set. Sanral has been able to introduce a payment amnesty regime informed by the reviews in March this year.
In response to the call by the President of the Republic of SA, His Excellency President Jacob Zuma, earlier this year to address electronic payment billing challenges in Gauteng and make it easier for people to comply, I wish to announce that we have come to the following reprieve for affected motorists in the following categories: There has been a further extension of the payment period to avoid the Violation Processing Centre process that would negatively affect vehicle owners. Users will have an extended payment period of 51 days from the day they pass through the gantry, as opposed to the seven days. They will also receive the time-of- day discount. A nonregistered user will receive 60% off the alternative tariff if they pay within 51 days. For registered users, we will introduce the following reprieves: 48% e-tag holder discount, time-of-day discounts, frequent-user discounts and the R450 calendar month cap for class A2 or light vehicles. We trust that these concessions will go some way to lessen the financial burden on the part of users. [Applause.]
In 1995, the ANC government under President Mandela introduced the Masakhane Campaign to inculcate the principle of users taking responsibility for infrastructure development and payment of services as part of the implementation of the Reconstruction and Development Programme. President Mandela said:
We all have the responsibility to pay for what we use, or else the investment will dry up and the projects come to an end. We must ensure that we can, as a nation, provide for the millions still without the basic needs.
Today, we can proudly say that the NDP has identified transport infrastructure as a key economic driver. As outlined in the NDP, the user- pays principle remains the policy of this government and no review of neither the policy nor the legislation governing urban tolling or any other tolling has been undertaken by this government.
Government continues to explore partnerships through which we can secure funding to reverse the current infrastructure backlog. Our partners, existing and potential, can only do business with us if we are certain about our policy objectives.
We urge the users of the tolled Gauteng road network to continue contributing towards the building of a better South Africa with the necessary world-class infrastructure required to move our country forward. To them we say that we are grateful for their co-operation and we encourage those who are still not registered for electronic payment to do so. [Applause.]
This includes members of this House and our guests in the gallery, your families, friends, including acquaintances and neighbours. It is our responsibility as a collective of law-makers to make sure that we encourage South Africans to be responsible for what they would want to have.
In our quest to ensure a sustained, co-ordinated approach to the battle against road carnage, the department has embarked on a 365-day road safety programme. We have in the past couple of months moved swiftly to stabilise the lead agency, the Road Traffic Management Corporation, by appointing a full-time board and a CEO, following several months of instability at leadership level.
The RTMC, along with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and Statistics SA are developing a road injury and fatalities data collection tool. We are also in the process of establishing a national Road Safety Advisory Council, which will advise the RTMC shareholder committee, constituting the Minister, the nine MECs and Salga, on the mammoth challenge of road safety. This approach would ensure that we pool all available resources in all the sectors towards a comprehensive national social behavioural change campaign. The RTMC will continue to implement the 365 days of road safety programme aligned with the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety Global Campaign.
We are currently working on the introduction of the Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill, which would see the RAF moving away from how it currently handles and manages claims. The Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill seeks to do away with the fault-based claim approach and introduce a no-fault-based policy.
Through the current RAF On the Road community outreach programme, government continues to take services to the people. We are pleased to report that this campaign has since its inception reached over 23 000 claimants and paid out over R260 million in benefits. We are of the view that road carnage is a societal pandemic akin to HIV/Aids and we require a multidisciplinary approach to stem the tide. We applaud the role played by the faith-based structures in collaboration with our roads agencies to give a human face to the deaths on the roads.
We will continue to support our country's efforts in ensuring a seamless trading environment and regional integration with our neighbouring countries and Africa at large. Our agency, the Cross Border Road Transport Agency, continues to play a key role in reducing cross-border transport constraints that hinder the free flow of people and goods over our borders.
Our expenditure over the medium term will be aimed at attaining an efficient, competitive and responsive infrastructure network, which is part of outcome six of the Medium-Term Strategic Framework 2014-19. Our approach is also to support the implementation of the NDP's priorities of maintaining road infrastructure, upgrading rail infrastructure and services, and building and operating public transportation infrastructure for our people.
Our budget allocation for the 2014-15 financial year is R48,7 billion. This includes allocations to provinces, municipalities, state-owned companies and agencies. Of the allocated amount, R46,9 billion goes to transfers. We transfer R20,1 billion to provinces and municipalities, which comes to about 41,3% of the total budget. We transfer R14,9 billion to public corporations and private enterprises, which comes to about 25% of our budget. We transfer R12,2 billion to agencies, which comes to about 30,6%; the remainder being the department's goods and services and compensation to employees, at about 2,96%.
The ANC government inherited ageing rolling stock, outdated signalling technology and dilapidated railway stations, which were the characteristics of an unreliable and unsafe commuter rail transport service. Since 1994, we have made significant strides in modernising the railway infrastructure and services. We have built, upgraded and refurbished more than 50 universally accessible stations, as well as some 2 600 modern coaches. In the process, some 3 000 direct and indirect jobs have been created. Further investment is required, however. [Applause.]
The Department of Transport, together with Prasa and the National Treasury, concluded the procurement process for the new rolling stock programme of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA and the agreement of Prasa with Gibela Rail Transportation. In August 2013, Prasa appointed the preferred broad-based black economic empowerment participants in the new rolling stock renewal programme, 17% of Prasa's renewal project has been committed to the BBBEE participants.
The Gibela consortium will supply 198 new vehicles over the next three years and 3 600 new vehicles over the next 10 years. The first modern set of trains is expected to hit our tracks in 2015. Further outcomes to be derived from this programme include the new coach-building and locomotive assembly plant being established in Nigel in the Gauteng province. Through 65% localisation we will realise the creation of 33 000 direct and indirect jobs. We will also realise training of 19 000 technicians, artisans, engineers and train drivers. [Applause.]