Time for Transport to shine

As we embark on the 11th year of the October Transport Month campaign, we are guided by the ANC’s ‘Ready to Govern’ policy guidelines ‘to develop a sustainable economy and state infrastructure that will progressively improve the quality of life of all South Africans.’ As strongly capture in the ANC Ready to Govern document, ‘we believe that indeed the development of the economy will, in turn, provide the basis for overcoming the divisions of the past without creating new ones’.

We therefore believe that our Campaign has indeed proven to be a catalyst in achieving transport service delivery by moving SA’s economy and society forward. It is therefore befitting that the theme for this year is “Together We Move South Africa Forward”.

But the question that is often asked is, why does the ANC government embark on this campaign? The main focus for the government is very clear – the transport networks are central to the country’s economy and vital to business and people’s day-to-day lives. This is a golden thread that weaves together the latest thinking on the transport strategic choices that are before us.

The vision to demonstrate major investments and delivery on transport infrastructure and services has therefore been a major factor why Government embark on this initiative. The campaign has brought unprecedented levels of success in showcasing transport achievements. It has brought together all spheres of Government as well as the transport industry to support the growth and improvement of transport networks across the country. But most importantly it has brought service delivery.

This year’s Campaign is no different. It continues to demonstrate transport achievements of the past and current financial years. All spheres of government and transport public entities champion it. The focus is once again to demonstrate ANC government’s service delivery and footprint in its investments in all modes of transportation.

It is therefore befitting to use this article to reflect on a few of these transport accomplishments – whose strategic objectives were captured in the Departmental budget vote in May this year.

Without a doubt, in the past 21years a proud history of transport policies and achievements has been made under the ANC government. A lasting Transport legacy has been built and continues to be built.

Firstly, the National Transport Master Plan (NATMAP) is in the final stage of completion. NATMAP will provide a firm foundation for effective and efficient transport planning and implementation across all spheres of Government. The Master Plan is a blueprint for transport infrastructure investment for South Africa over the coming 50 years. It addresses the fragmentation of authorities and responsibility for transport functions. It also allows for a steady increase in transport infrastructure funding. By end October 2015, transport experts and stakeholders will converge in Boksburg for a NATMAP Colloquium to deliberate further on the master plan before its submission to Cabinet for processing.

Already benefits of the ANC government’s investment in transportation are being seen through increased funding for transport related infrastructure that now stands at almost over R250bn. This has given the ANC government an opportunity to establish an integrated transport system through the development of new infrastructure, upgrade and realign existing infrastructure – but also ensure maintenance through proper finance mechanisms.

This is evident with a great deal of achievements in the public transport, passenger rail, road transport coupled with an increase in the Provincial Infrastructure Grant as well as investments and accomplishments in the maritime and aviation sectors. These are areas I will briefly address in this piece.

Firstly, the major achievement has been in the investment in the public transport system. The Department of Transport continues to be driven by a vision to achieve an effective, efficient, safe, reliable and integrated public transport system that covers urban and rural areas. The road based public transport has always been a critical aspect of the transport mandate. The ANC government’s Public Transport Strategy has remained a blueprint and guiding document in the formalization of the public transport sector. The strategy proposed two key thrusts to turnaround the country’s public transport system:

  1. The Accelerated Modal Upgrading to transform the bus, taxi and rail fleet in the short to medium term.
  2. The Integrated Rapid Public Transport Networks (IRPTN) focusing on the high quality public transport networks – integrating all modes and Bus Rapid Transit Corridors in 12 major cities.

Consequently, the investment of R25bn has been made in the IRPTN concept that is currently being implemented in Joburg, Cape Town, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay, Buffalo City, Mangaung, eThekwini, Polokwane, Mbombela, Rustenburg, Pietermaritzburg and Ekurhuleni. Some of the achievements in this regard include, among others, the continued rollout of the integrated Public Transport Networks in Johannesburg in the form of Rea Ya Vaya. The MyCiti in Cape Town is already operational with the current expansion of the rapid bus services to Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain.

The ANC led Government has also facilitated the? procurement of over 1000 buses in 6 cities. It has also built over 120km of dedicated lanes and nearly 100 Bus stations. Currently the system is transporting an average of 100 000 passengers on weekdays for both Cape Town and Johannesburg. With additional cities beginning to operate, the numbers are expected to double to 200 000 by 2016 and 300 000 by 2018.

An additional breakthrough resulting from the IPTN projects is the inclusion of the current minibus operators and drivers in the formal public transport service provision. Government has created a viable solution for urban minibus operators to become formal contracted network companies.

To date, 8 companies of former minibus owners have been set up in the cities. ?By end of 2015 the programme will have incorporated the owners and drivers of nearly 2000 minibuses into public transport networks – and an additional 3000 minibuses, by 2019.

With regards to the taxi fleet and the Taxi Recapitalization programme, since 2006, over 60 000 old taxes have been scrapped – and about R4bn scrapping allowance has been paid to taxi operators. This is part of the process renewing the taxi fleet – as envisaged in the Public Transport Strategy – by replacing old and unsafe taxi vehicles with the new taxis that meet all the safety specifications such as rollover bars and seatbelts.

The Taxi industry is the most important part of our Public transport system. According to the 2013 National Household Survey conducted by Statistics South Africa, taxis are the preferred type of road transport. The taxis move 68% of 5.4 million passengers on a daily basis and contribute immensely to our economy.

The ANC, and its government, will continue working closely, as we do, with industry to forge unity, regulate and professionalize the industry. As our unwavering commitment to the 2014 Election Manifesto, we will work with the taxi industry to facilitate their participation in the total transport value chain, for example in the fuel value chain, spares, assembling and manufacturing.

The passenger rail also continues to be the backbone of the Country’s public transport system carrying more than 1.2 million commuters daily and 550 million passenger trips annually. Some of the biggest passenger rail achievements include the success of and plans to expand the R40bn Integrated Gautrain Rapid Rail Link, which was implemented in 2010.

Government continues to invest R1bn per annum as a subsidy in this service. Its patronage has increased from the humble beginnings of 18000 passengers to a current 43000 passengers daily. Plans are afoot to expand this service to areas that were initially excluded.

The Recapitalization of the Passenger Rail has also been a major achievement including Fleet Renewal Programme and the overhaul of the rail infrastructure. An unprecedented R53bn was approved by Cabinet for the acquisition of the new rolling stock over the next 10 years which will create over 60 000 jobs.

Through this investment, PRASA will acquire 1350 new couches in the next three years. The first test train will reach South Africa before the end of this year. The first twenty trains manufactured in Brazil will be delivered by the end of 2016. And Gibela Consortium will supply 198 new vehicles over three years from Nigel. An investment of R3.5bn is also being made for the acquisition of 20 new long distance and 50 metro service locomotives, and 13 of the locomotives have already been delivered with a further 15 to be received during 2016.

PRASA will also spend 5,8bn rands over the next three years on general overhaul/refurbishment of old rolling stock. It is also important to state that, in the past financial year, the Renewal Programme resulted in the refurbishment of 291 Metrorail and 298 Shosholoza Myl coaches.

Through our Station Modernization Programme train stations were upgraded. The Moloto Rail Development Corridor is now a registered PPP project. A feasibility study has also been concluded – which is an important milestone towards moving the daily commuters from Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces into Gauteng Province.

With regard to the Road Network, SA’s outlook of road infrastructure today is a complete contrast of what it was in the advent of our democracy. The network has grown from 540 000km in early 90s to a current 750 000km, which is amongst the top ten biggest road network globally. Today, South Africa has 153 719km paved roads, 453 259km gravel roads and 140 000km un-proclaimed roads. This was brought about by ANC government’s huge investment on the road infrastructure which is, as stipulated in the National Development Plan (NDP), the fortitude of economic and social development of the country. In total, over the past decade, more than R100bn was invested on the road infrastructure.

The implementation of the reduced toll fee structure on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project has been one of our major achievements. The continued smooth running of the three Public Private Partnerships that are currently in place on the N4 Maputo Corridor, N4/N1 Platinum Highway, and N3 – continues to be the Country’s groundbreaking achievement. The Maputo Development Corridor (N4 highway) even though it was launched in 1998 – it still continues to be a crucial North–South corridor for Southern Africa’s regional economic integration.

The labour intensive road programme, S’hamba Sonke, also continues to run smoothly with over R10bn spent in the last financial year and 61 000 jobs created. The road interventions also seek to address the development of the emerging contractors. For instance, in the past year, SANRAL invested a total of R1.8bn on the contracts with SMMEs, of which more than R1.2bn went to black-owned firms.

With regards to Air Transportation, the Department’s Air Transport Strategy 2015-2020 is playing an import role in improving air connectivity on the continent by establishing new air service markets and expanding existing ones. The approach is in line with the implementation of the Yamasoukrou Decision in support of the initiative to establish the Single African Air Transport Market by 2017 as pronounced by the African Union (AU) Heads of State Summit of January 2015.South Africa was elected unopposed by the continent to lead this African endeavor.

The expansion of air transport both domestically and internationally is necessary for economic and tourism growth. South Africa has reviewed and liberalised Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs) with many African States and countries. In total, it has concluded air services frameworks with 124 States. It has also concluded air services arrangements with 49 African states.

These huge connection expansions have resulted in ACSA handling over 35 Million departing passengers annually at its Airports with over 500 000 Total Air Traffic Movement. It is precisely for this reason that the Air Transport Strategy also plays a significantly role in growing the travelling population.

The demonstration of this fact has been the entry of new foreign carriers. Since 2008, foreign carriers have increased services to South Africa from 318 to 455 frequencies per week. And South African carriers increased services from 432 to 569 frequencies per week. The demand in international traffic is set to increase with the Department actively engaged in dialogue with other key countries as part of Air Transport Strategy 2015-2020.

With regard to the Maritime sector, which is undoubtedly an enabler of our economic growth. Over 80% of bulk trade is moved by sea through SA’s nine commercial ports. For instance, the Port Terminals handles an annual record of 300 million tons of cargo, 150 million tons of mineral resources and 22 million tons of oil. In economic terms, this means that the maritime sector is a major cog in the country’s economic machinery.

South Africa’s ports are managing the most vital conduits of the country’s imports and exports. They continue to play a critical role as gateways between South African and the global economies. It is for this reason that the ANC Government has played a major role in ensuring an increased appetite for the investment in South African flagged and registered ship which will fast-track SA’s oceans economy. The realization of this grand objective was partly attained when the “Cape Orchid”, measuring 296 metres long (almost 3 soccer fields), sailed from Qushan Island in China docked at the Port of Saldanha Bay, on 24 September 2015, proudly flying the South African flag. This ship is registered on the South African Ship Register. The first ship to be registered in RSA since 1985.

Government has introduced a new shipping tax regime which incentivizes the qualifying ship owners. There has also been an increase of mortgage ranking for the finance institutions that are supporting the maritime sector – particularly those that finance ship purchasers. The adoption of the IMO convention remains the biggest milestone for South Africa. The needs of the seafarers (workers at sea)are now being taken into account as part of growing the maritime sector.

South Africa has also managed to deal with a huge skills shortage in this sector by signing the process recognition agreements with various countries such as Poland, Netherlands etcetera. Such recognition agreements will allow SA to source any skill not readily available locally. The Ports Regulator, which was established in 2005, also actively plays its major role in the fair regulation of tariffs. The South African Maritime Safety Agency (SAMSA) has also continued to play its part in ensuring the safety of South Africa’s properties at SEA and safeguard her maritime interest.

Lastly and most important, road safety is everyone’s responsibility and as the leader of the society, the ANC must take a lead in advocating and changing our people’s attitude towards safety on our roads. It cannot be business as usual when the country loses over 14 000 people annually on our roads.

In November 2015, the country will be presenting a mid-term report to the United Nations’ Second Global High Level Conference in Brazil. The report will be on the five pillars of road safety, which are:

  1. Road Safety Management
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Safe Vehicles
  4. Road User Behaviour
  5. Post-Crash care

The ANC government will continue to work very hard to meet milestones set by the global community but partnerships with the “broad church” are critical to the attainment of our ultimate goal of safer roads. People must use seats belts and restrain their children, keep to the speed limit, refrain from using cell phones while driving and stop drinking and driving. The ANC as leader of society must champion road safety campaigns especially focusing on the youth, who incidentally constitute the biggest chunk of the fatalities as a result of speeding,texting and driving as well driving under the influence.

So as Team Transport embarks on this October Transportation Month campaign, let’s keep in mind that the team is taking this invaluable opportunity to make a significant contribution to the future of our transport networks and that of South Africa’s economy.

On behalf of the the ANC government the transport fraternity in partnership with the private sector and the broader South African society will be showcasing Transport as a true enabler or facilitator of infrastructure development, transportation service provision and in that way create jobs through enterprise and skills development.

Transport is the heartbeat of socio-economic development; an enabler and facilitator for fighting unemployment, eradicating poverty and inequality.

Comrade Dipuo Peters is a member of the ANC NEC and Minister of Transport

Posted in Phambili
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