Speech Notes: Transport Portfolio Committee Report and Budget 2020/2021

Issued by Marshall von Buchenroder, MPL
Shadow MEC for Transport

Department of Transport in a Dismal State with MEC Tikana at the helm

The Department of Transport is currently at a point where it is on the brink of an Achilles heel due to the plethora of events and concurrent display of alleged allegations leveled at the current MEC of Transport.

Madam Speaker, through the lens of the public, the department is under a very dark cloud. I would like to re-iterate that the residents of this province need value for money and an improvement in their living conditions when it comes to delivery of services. However, what is currently displayed in the media of both the department and MEC is undesirable.

Today, as we meet again as a Provincial Legislature, one needs to observe a moment of silence in order to express our sincere condolences to all the families and loved ones whom have lost a relative during the Covid-19 pandemic, may their souls rest in peace, having said that Speaker, we also need to salute the brave men and women who are on the frontline during this pandemic.

Value for money should be the order of the day. Currently, from my perspective, there is no value for money in the current proposed budget before us. Speaker allow me to cite some compelling reasons why the Democratic Alliance cannot and will not support a deteriorating budget that is not speaking to the needs of the people.

It begs the question, why should a struggling department top slice more than R75 Million at the expense of learners that are in dire need of scholar transport during Covid-19?

Due to the inability and the lack of political leadership to adopt the department’s organogram, how can we implement a budget that is not aligned with an organogram? For more than a year the roads component has been incorporated into the department and yet, to date, they are still left outside in the cold like orphans.

With the latest new arrival of motorcycle ambulances, I would like to ask the MEC of Transport. Why was this procurement of these ambulances done through the Department of Health and not Transport? Did the MEC give consent for this procurement if not, why not? If so, what are the compelling reasons?

Program 2: Maintenance

It is depicting a decrease of 15,5% which equates to R209 559 000. The core function of this program is road maintenance and constructing of new roads. Yet today, one of the recommendations in front of us is that there is no clear or concise plan afoot as to how the department will spend the R593 million on road maintenance.

Without a clear plan and timeframe there will be no value for money in this financial year. Whilst a proper road network is one of the key ingredients to a recipe for a thriving economy, a proper road network will also open up opportunities for individuals to expand or create their financial wealth and well-being for the betterment of their livelihoods.

Program 3:

Madam Speaker, Scholar Transport depicts minimal decrease of 0.1%, one may argue that this should not be a matter of concern. Madam Speaker, the reality is that there should be an upward trajectory in the scholar transport budget and not a downward trajectory.

Approximately 38 000 qualified learners need to brace bad weather conditions because they are not budgeted for in this financial year. It is for this reason that the Democratic Alliance is not supporting this failing and uncaring budget.

Year in and year out this failing government is making empty promises to the most vulnerable children of our province. Only the Democratic Alliance can provide a workable alternative, this reminds me of a local author “The three main ingredients for success is love, power and a sound mind”.

From my perspective it is clear that the department will never have the love for these children, nor will they have the power to implement a fully funded budget in order to transport all qualifying learners on a daily basis. The department will never have a sound mind to allocate an adequate budget in order to deliver on their mandate for all the needy and qualified learners. Success is just a pipe dream for this department. Whilst you are dreaming, the Democratic Alliance will provide you with workable and realistic alternatives.

Under Covid-19, current affairs show that under scholar transport there are no operators that are operational, this is resulting in either learners not being able to attend school or risking their lives by walking long distances.

To compound matters, I can vividly recall, almost verbatim, that the national minister said, “Taxi operations under Covid-19 will only operate at 70% and not at full capacity”. Madam Speaker, to make matters worse, the department has failed to provide additional funding for either the extra operators or additional trips in order to transport these learners.

No transport of learners’ results in no education. The Democratic Alliance is saying no to this budget as it does not speak to the most vulnerable and needy in this province, no means no!

Madam Speaker, let me hasten towards concluding but also to allow me to express myself to a subject that is near and dear to my heart namely, 24-hour traffic law enforcement.

The MEC made a bold pronouncement of a fully-fledged 24-hour traffic law enforcement that will be introduced in the province in a policy speech.

Madam Speaker, through you to the MEC, talk is cheap, in the fifth administration you made the same pronouncement, and nothing came to fruition.

Under Covid-19, traffic officers are working a 24-hour shift, this is done on an overtime basis and is not sustainable for the department. Yet the current budget makes no provision for additional funding in order to implement a 24-hour traffic law enforcement.

This is again a clear indication of no planning and not speaking to the needs of the masses, again, I need to re-iterate the Democratic Alliance cannot and will not support this collapsing budget.

Hon Speaker, the department is mirrored in processes of dragging their feet and non-compliance of house resolutions. More and more cases are emerging within the department and they are currently overwhelmed, this will lead to the path of self-destruction.

The long outstanding payments (imfundisi and others) to traffic officers are now at an Achilles heel, enough is enough! Swift action is needed, and it is needed now. The budget in its current format is not speaking to the needs of the people nor will it improve or benefit the most vulnerable in our province. We must stop the tender profiteering.

The Democratic Alliance does not support this ill formed budget.

I thank you