Speech Notes: Department of Transport Annual Report and Financial Oversight Debate

Marshall von Buchenroder

Honourable Speaker
Honourable Premier
Honourable MECs
Honourable members of the house
Ladies and gentlemen in the public gallery

I greet you all today

“Public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation.” Margaret Chase Smith

Hon Speaker,

During our engagement with the Department of Transport it was evidently clear that this is a struggling department.

The members in this House can do their own analysis based on reports presented today, but allow me to highlight some points.

It saddens me to inform this House that the Department has yet again underspent their budget by R6, 265 million. This is a R2, 039 million more from the 2016/17 financial year. This Department should have used up 100% of their budget to render much needed roads and transport services for the Eastern Cape.

Hon Speaker, it is simply intolerable that an amount of R130.6 million has either been lost or written off. One needs to question if there is proper management, oversight and monitoring as well as work ethics of staff in this department?

Strong political leadership is now needed more than ever in this department in order to have a safe festive season.
Hon Speaker, this department has been unable to improve on the scholar transport system for quite some time.

Yesterday the MEC of Education stood at this podium and informed us that the verification of transporting learners at this point is not correct. He furthermore said that the department cannot verify if they are transporting the correct pupils.

The disregard shown by the Department of Transport has forced many parents to use their limited funds on alternative transport which often proves to be unroadworthy. Private transport operators are not subject to the same scrutiny as scholar transporters contracted by the department and are often found not to be in possession of any valid documentation.

The spate of scholar-related accidents shows that overloading and a general disregard for traffic laws are prevalent among transport operators. Sending your children to school should not be a death sentence.

The lack of effective scholar transport in this province is an indictment of the current government. The fact that after 24 years of democracy, there are learners who are walking long distances just to get an education, is an injustice.
Learners walking these distances are unable to concentrate in class as they are often left exhausted.

Children need to be in safe environments at all times and denying them scholar transport equates to denying them safety. Hon. Speaker, I therefore urge this department to stop compromising our children’s access to education and safety. Proper budgeting is needed in order to allocate more needed funds to the scholar transport programme. Keeping our children safe is not limited to the classroom.

A DA-led government would not allow provincial governments to endanger children by failing to provide scholar transport to all needy children who walk long distances to schools. Two years ago I stood at this podium and proposed that scholar transport be moved back to the department of education, as this is the norm in other provinces in order to stop the red tape.

Yesterday some of my learned colleagues used the narrative of the titanic. The only difference between the titanic and the South Africa is that the lights were still on when the titanic went down, and in South Africa the lights are off under an ANC government.

The MEC must prove that she takes children’s safety seriously by ensuring all children that need scholar transport have access to it.

Hon Speaker, with the approaching festive season, traffic safety will once again be in the spotlight. Unfortunately, road accidents will make this a time of great sadness instead of a celebration for many families.

People continue to lose their lives on our roads, children are still forced to walk to schools, Taxi violence is a common occurrence, and traffic law enforcement is basically non-existent.

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

In her 2018/19 budget speech Transport MEC, Weziwe Tikana, announced that she would be embarking on the rollout of 24-hour traffic law enforcement on the province’s roads, but eight months later, and nothing has been done. Talk is cheap but actions speak louder than words.

Freedom means being able to use roads without the fear of unlawful road users whose behaviour puts their own lives and those of others in danger. MEC, give our people the opportunity to get into a vehicle knowing that there is proper law enforcement on the roads, 24-hours a day. A safe and secure transport network is necessary for a growing economy.

“The vision of the department is an effective, safe, sustainable, affordable and accessible transport system.” Yet yesterday the ANC led government in Nelson Mandela Bay has increased the IPTS fares from R5 to R8, a 55% increase. It begs the question, are they for the poor and the needy or do they need more money in order to spend it on none core items.

Hon Speaker, once again the Auditor General has expressed an unqualified opinion for Mayibuye Transport Corporation. As you can see on the report MTC incurred an irregular expenditure of R19, 7 million over the last three financial years.

Once again, one needs to question if there is proper management, oversight and monitoring as well as work ethics of staff in this department?

Hon Speaker, the MEC must provide the transport committee with detailed responses on how she will prevent this increasing irregular expenditure, and must ensure that the effective steps are taken.
Hon Speaker,
Let us say a silent prayer for all those travelling on roads over the festive season. Let us say a silent prayer for all those who have just written matric exams and are about to enter the world outside school.
May all of you here today have a wonderful Christmas break with your families.
The DA supports the report.