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.