The Eastern Cape Department of Transport is in ICU
I greet you one and all today. I would like to thank the Democratic Alliance for the opportunity to stand here today and be able to debate on a report from the Department of Transport.
As we approach the end of the Transport month. The Democratic Alliance would like to extend our sincere condolences to the families of those who have been tragically killed in these roads accidents.
At the beginning of October, as we entered Transport month, at least eight (8) people have died and twenty two (22) have been seriously injured on our roads.
This is not a good story to tell.
Drastic action needs to be taken if we are to address the ongoing carnage on the Eastern Cape roads that are claiming the lives of thousands of loved ones across the length and breadth of this province.
When someone’s life is in danger, they will never reach their full potential, nor will they be able to take advantage of any opportunities.
When you constrain individuals in pursuing their dreams and goals, you are constraining the well-being of their community. We should not constrain the residents of Komani.
Personal safety is a prerequisite for creating an enabling environment in which all can thrive in, and not just for some.
This preamble is enshrined in the constitution of the republic.
One must acknowledge that there has been moderate successes in the reduction of road fatalities since 2006. Yet more must be done. Furthermore, we need to create a beacon of hope for your employees.
The time is now. We must act now and swiftly.
Mother Theresa said
“Yesterday is gone,
Tomorrow has not yet come,
we have only today.
Let us begin.”
We have only today to start the implementation of 24-hour traffic law enforcement in order to save lives.
In her last budget speech, MEC Tikana -Gxothiwe admits that the roll out of this service has been delayed, and is now expected to be implemented sometime over the next three years.
Three years is simply not good enough, people are dying on our roads daily and more needs to be done now, not the year from now, the Democratic Alliance says “Kenako – Kenako, the time is now.”
In the Western Cape where the DA govern , traffic officers are on duty 24-hours a day, 365 days a year . This needs to happen throughout the Eastern Cape to help bring down the number of road fatalities.
Madam speaker, it also begs the question.
What steps are being taken to improve the quality of the roads that are literally disintegrating due to no maintenance?
One of the other contributors is stray animals.
Hon. MEC, what steps are being taken to put up fencing to prevent stray animals wandering onto the roads?
Let me answer for you Hon. MEC. Nine months later and there is no improvement in the condition of our roads, no 24-hour traffic services have been initiated, and potholes and stray animals are everywhere.
Drastic action must be taken if we are to address the ongoing carnage on the Eastern Cape roads that are claiming the lives of thousands of loved ones across the Province. We’re still in Transport Month and countless lives have already been lost.
High visibility and tough law enforcement all year – round, not just seasonal plans, can curb the high road death toll in the Eastern Cape.
The MEC must use this Transport Month to advance our province’s road safety initiatives.
I have stated before that the Department of Transport must use the following steps, which will have a direct impact on improving traffic policing in the province:
1. The establishment of a 24-hour traffic law enforcement service within the province
2. All funded vacancies must be filled as a matter of urgency
3. Additional provincial traffic officers need to be appointed
4. Outstanding overtime must be paid (and now stop 30%)
5. Monitoring and removal of stray animals must be prioritized
6. Satellite traffic offices must be established to elevate the long distances officers have to drive in order to do patrolling, and
7. Supply all traffic officers with regular tools of trade
The MEC and her department should stop playing the monopoly game with residents of this Province when they land on chance, therefore you cannot take any chances with the lives of people.
Hon. Speaker, a total of 151 392 learners in the Eastern Cape need scholar transport, however only 111 127 children qualify for the scholar transport programme. This leave out 40 265 learners who did not make the cut.
From the learners that qualify only 83 000 are benefitting from programme. This means that 28 127 qualifying scholars are left to make the their own way to school every day.
The picture of hungry learners walking long distances in the dark and sometimes in the rain and other adverse weather conditions must stop.
Unlike the ANC, the Democratic Alliance cares about the education of our Eastern Cape scholars. Without proper management of the scholar transport system, many learners will not be able to realize their right to basic education.
What we must do is stop the profiteers- that is, people being enriched unjustifiably – so we can transport more pupils. This is not a get rich scheme, it is a get a learner to school scheme.
There are 1959 scholar transport operators in the province for the current financial year, this is an increase of 59 transport operators from the last financial year 2018/19.
I recently asked a question to the MEC regarding the total number of scholar transport routes cancelled in the Province. In her reply, the MEC stated that a total of 58 routes were cancelled in the province. Of the 58 routes, 18 routes were cancelled in the Chris Hani district.
In a free and fair society, our children should be given the best opportunities to access education. This starts with being able to get to schools and not cancelling routes.
Hon. Speaker, the department’s 2019/20 budget for scholar transport is R603- million, which allows for an average cost for R 3 983 per annum per learner (R 603 000 000/ 151 392 ) while the current amount is R 7 265, 06 ( R 603 000 000 / 83 000).
The Democratic Alliance believes that education is the key to improving the lives of our people. Scholar transport is a necessary step towards fulfilling scholars’ right to basic education as guaranteed by section 29(1) of the Constitution.
What should be implemented as a matter of urgency is:
1. A component within the Department of Transport to specifically manage the functions of the learner transport system- transfer of skills from service providers and consultants;
2. Re-examination of the tariff and cost structure;
3. Re-examination of routes and pickup points;
4. Better information systems that are accurate and reliable; and
5. Fines for transport operators who do not comply, like the Western Cape.
John F. Kennedy said “Change is the law of life and those who look to the past or present are certain to miss the future”
This entity is on the verge of collapse as MTC left thousands of commuters from East London to Komani stranded even though they pay for the bus service per week.
Almost half of the company’s buses are not on the roads, this is due to the state-owned company not being able to pay mechanics, who in turn are not releasing the vehicles until payment is received. Only 47 of the 88 buses are operational.
The company received R130 million in funding from the department of transport for this financial year.
They have experienced countless problems over the years , this includes suspending its services amid disputes with taxi bosses over routes, as well as new buses with millions of Rands standing idle for long periods because they did not meet tender specifications.
The company also failed to pay repair bills to mechanics, their bus schedule became erratic were also inflating their prices.
Commuters pay between R400 and R600 for a bus ticket per week for a failing company.
In conclusion this department should strive to achieve the objectives and goals, in order for the residents to respond as follows:
1. No one have served me better than you
2. No one has helped me more
3. They share my vision with clarity.
4. They direct my mission with consistency
5. They handle all my issues with integrity
Hon. Speaker, this is where we need to be.
The Democratic Alliance supports this report.