Speech notes by Marshall von Buchenroder MPL. 2018/19 budget for Vote 10, Transport. 17 May 2018

Honourable Speaker

Honourable Premier

Honourable MECs

Honourable members of the house

Ladies and gentlemen in the public gallery

 

I greet you all today

― Peter H. DiamandisAbundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think

“Abundance is not about providing everyone on this planet with a life of luxury—rather it’s about providing all with a life of possibility.” 

There has been a huge increase in the Departmental strategy with 79.3%, from R8,745- million to R15,678 million. It begs the question, who will benefit from this strategic decision?  Will it be the Department or will it go to the cronies in order to award them a nice contract?  Let me remind us all that we need to do more with less so let’s walk the talk and not only pay lip service.

Clear planning and accountability systems must be in place when spending taxpayers’ money and it must be to the benefit of all the people and not the elite few.

Filling of funded vacant posts must be a priority of any department “we cannot do the same thing and expect a different result.  It is called madness”.  By no means do I advocate that there is madness but common sense must prevail.  All funded vacancies should be filled as a matter of priority.  We do not need to save costs by not filling positions.  The need for political intervention is needed with speed to fill these funded posts in order to render the service that is needed out there by the masses.

With regards to Mfundisi, Bomela and Krinkelbos, it is high time that the Department stops playing games with their own workers.  The morale of traffic officers is at its lowest due to outstanding matters.  The committee has advised on this matter, yet there are a couple of malicious officials that is ill advising on the implementation of any resolution.  There are a number of outstanding grievances within the Department:

  • The outstanding payment of Krinkelbos Four
  • The abuse of power by senior officials when grievances are filed and the ad hoc removal of staff members.

Whilst we welcome the Roads function within the Department, there are some challenges that we are facing and some are so serious that it will lead to litigation.

  1. The possibility of non-payment to contractors: during our deliberations, it was made clear that payment will only be made after June 2018;
  2. The 1 136 staff that now forms part of transport without any HR documentation and office space;
  3. No proper handover;
  4. Invalid or verification of contractors;
  5. Monitoring and evaluation of work done either complete or incomplete;
  6. R102 billion road maintenance backlog;
  7. Road Maintenance Grant that is allegedly at OTP and not with the Department;
  8. Ageing fleet and transfer of yellow fleet;

These are some of the compelling issues that will hamper service delivery in the province.  In the Daily Dispatch on Monday 7th May 2018, “First rain destroys R 9.3- million road”.  This road is in Matatiele, the link road between Komani and Kokstad.  It is alleged that alternative surfacing material has been used and not the normal tar.

Unfortunately, the Easter season saw a spate of road deaths across the province.  It is with great regret that 59 fatalities were recorded this year during the Easter season.  Nationally, the fatalities rose from 449 to 510, amounting to a 14% increase.  This is unacceptable and we as the Democratic Alliance believe more needs to be done to prevent these senseless deaths.

One of the ways that we believe this can be done is through the 24-hour traffic law enforcement system.  This is something that we have been advocating for years.  Although the Minister has stated that the Province is to embark on the implementation, we have yet to see any real indication of this in practice.

The only way to limit the carnage on our roads is to stop motorists from taking chances by driving unroadworthy vehicles, overloading, speeding and drunk driving. This can be achieved by visible policing on our roads and by effective traffic law enforcement.

The provincial ratio of 1:1456 traffic officers to registered road users is certainly inadequate.  The road users increase dramatically over the festive season when holidaymakers visit the province.  What is of further concern is that the ratio goes up to 1:4050 patrol cars to registered road users.

The following intervention is needed:

  • To request additional funding from the national and provincial treasury;
  • To reprioritise the budget in order to avail more funds for service delivery;
  • To recruit, train and appoint new members annually in order to reach the adequate number of traffic law enforcement officers;
  • To uplift the morale of members; and
  • To establish a fully functional 24-hour traffic law enforcement in the province instead of merely paying lip service.

By doing so, the department will create a culture of a safe, law-abiding and visible traffic law enforcement. That will ultimately see the birth of 24-hour traffic law enforcement on all our major road networks in the province.

 Scholar Transport

Out of the nine provinces, the Eastern Cape has the second highest demand for scholar transport at 110 000 learners reported for 2017-18.  R462-million was budgeted for transportation of learners and R13 million as a result of adjustment prioritisation within the Department. However, out of the 110 000 learners who require transport, the Department is only able to transport 80 595 learners, essentially leaving 29 405 learners stranded.

The Democratic Alliance believes that this is not only a result of budgetary constraints but a lack of cohesive liaison between the Department of Transport and the Department of Education.  Either their names have not been submitted by the Department of Education or else inaccurate information is supplied.  The Department of Transport can only work with the information that is supplied by the Department of Education, and if the latter provides insufficient information, this will obviously have a negative impact on the efficiency of the Scholar Transport System.  It is for this reason that I believe, the Department of Education should be responsible for the Scholar Transportation System like in some other provinces in the Republic.

Regulation 250

There is a need to employ better safety mechanisms.  The fact that there have been so many tragic accidents involving scholars this year is an indication that the department is not doing enough to monitor the use of vehicles that are not roadworthy.  There needs to be uniform standards that should be used to address those who contravene the law.

  • The amendment of particular focus is Regulation 250 which states that no school child or person is to be transported in the goods compartment of a motor vehicle for reward.
  • Even with the amended legislation in force, there have been numerous car accidents involving scholars being transported in the goods compartment of vehicles (bakkies).  This highlights the fact that the Eastern Cape Scholar Transport Policy does not outline any fine system for transport operators who do not abide by the law.  Until there is set penalties outlined in the policy, there isn’t a clear direction for traffic officers to enforce the legislation on the roads.
  • Each province develops its own policy for scholar transport specific to its province.  The Western Cape Scholar Transport Policy has monetary penalties stipulated in the policy.  The Eastern Cape scholar transport policy does not.
  • The scholar transport policy needs to be updated so that it makes particular reference to the new legislation with clear penalties in place should transport operators not abide by those regulations.
  • There needs to be more visible policing of the scholar transport operators.
  • Traffic law enforcement officers need guidance on the type of fines/ penalties that they are allowed to issue should someone be found to be infringing upon the newly amended legislation.

The Democratic Alliance supports the Budget Vote for Transport.