House Chairperson and hon members, it's my privilege and honour to introduce this oversight visit report in the House. The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises undertook an oversight visit to Transnet facilities, namely the port of Cape Town, the Rail Engineering Plant in Salt River and the port of Saldanha Bay on 1 and 2 August 2012.
The purpose of these visits was to assess the developmental impact of the infrastructure development and operations on the communities immediately next to these facilities with regard to job creation, skills development, promotion of local business and localisation.
Our main findings with regard to the visit to the port of Cape Town are as follows: In the past financial year, the port spent R52 million on small, medium and micro enterprises, of which R7 million was spent on women's businesses and R27 million on black-owned businesses. There are 346 suppliers, of which only 21 are women-owned and 35 are black-owned.
We raised concerns with regard to the lack of development and support to local black-owned and women-owned businesses in the port of Cape Town. We noted that deliberate efforts had to be made to attract and support local businesses. The committee noted the focus of the bursary programme for entry-level employees and the skills development initiatives for external youth in the form of learnerships and apprenticeships, but with no bursary programmes for such youth.
Concerns were raised that the port was not supporting poor students needing bursaries as part of its contribution to the skills development targets of Transnet, and that the number of beneficiaries and skills development initiatives was too low. The committee raised the concern that the port had no partnerships with the community of Cape Town and it recommended that the port should establish a stakeholder forum which should include organised labour, businesses and the City of Cape Town.
The question must be: What positive impact can the port have on improving the socioeconomic conditions of the people of Cape Town? This will include community development involvement beyond the current support for two schools and the SOS Children's Village Food Garden Project to benefit more disadvantaged communities in the Western Cape.
Our second visit was to the Transnet Rail Engineering Plant in Salt River, not too far from here. This plant is 150 years old and has been the heart of South Africa's transport network since 1862. It is central to the maintenance facilities that support the Sishen Saldanha iron ore heavy-haul export corridor and the general freight business in the Western Cape. This plant supports the locomotives and wagons used on Transnet's 7 kilometers -long iron ore train, which today is the longest train in the world.
Central to the success of the plant is its human resources capabilities. It has the finest draughtspersons, best engineering brains, highly skilled technicians and a pool of dedicated unskilled workers. The plant also has a number of engineering capabilities or businesses. It is one of Transnet's rail engineering training academies specialising in mechanical and electrical trades, with 209 students in training for a three-year period. At the same time, we witnessed that there were 340 vacancies. We are urging management to fill those vacancies as fast as possible.
The port of Saldanha Bay is the largest and deepest natural one in South Africa. The committee noted with concern that the port is not invested in skills development and education to improve the employability of the people in Saldanha Bay. Therefore, the port is failing to support and develop local suppliers. It is also failing to engage with local businesses in order to promote a healthy relationship. While we acknowledge that there was ad hoc support for community projects, the project did not contribute to the developmental objectives of government.
In conclusion, the report contains a number of recommendations to the Minister of Public Enterprises emanating from these visits. We are hopeful that the Minister would consider these recommendations. I hereby submit the report for adoption by the House. I thank you. [Applause.]
There was no debate.