Speech by Honourable Patrick Sibande, Chairperson: SC on Public Services during the Transport Month debate.

Theme: Working together to intensify the war on poverty,hunger and socio-economic marginalisation

26 October 2010

Chairperson, Minister Ndebele
Honourable members
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is befitting to wrap-up the activity of the Transport Month Campaign as we approach its end with a debate in this House. This debate comes at a critical time when we are engaged in a process of introspection and trying to chart a way forward to speed up the transformation of our economy.

A reliable and safe road infrastructure is one of the main ingredients for building a modern economy and achieving economic growth. In a developing country like ours, it is imperative that the development of road infrastructures is linked to strategies for job creation and poverty eradication and ending economic marginalisation of the majority of our population.

The development and maintenance of road infrastructure is more amenable to labour intensity than most other economic activities. Therefore, it is a crucial element of our economical programme of creating more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods. A focus on reliability and safety in road infrastructure is particularly important as we approach the festive season - a period in our national calendar when we experience massive increase in road transport accidents leading to injuries and deaths in our roads.

Therefore, we must use this opportunity to all members of our communities throughout the country, to take responsibility for safety on the roads and help to stop the carnage at this time of the year. We must all obey laws and arrive alive at our destinations.

As members of the ANC, we welcome this opportune debate in the NCOP and wish to register our support for the Transport Month Campaign led by the Ministry. We recognise the work that is being done by the department and the government as a whole in implementing the National Land Transport Strategic Framework and the Public Transport Strategy.

Since 1994, the government has placed a priority in infrastructure development through policy changes, increases in funding and programme implementation. TheY were aimed at addressing the terrible legacy of apartheid spatial planning based on race. Apartheid and road infrastructure development ensured that black people were confined to geographic spaces which are inaccessible by road and where there infrastructure was limited to ensuring a supply of cheap labour to industries and white designated areas.

Apartheid spatial planning created what was often referred to as two economics in one country, this is particularly evident and more pronounced when one looks at infrastructure development such as road transport. In the majority of provinces which incorporated the former apartheid created homelands such as North West, Limpopo and Free State, the road infrastructure condition became dire. Across all provinces, the condition of road infrastructure continued to deteriorate, as a result of the legacy underdevelopment, poor planning, massive backlogs, inadequate investment and poor maintenance levels. It is this legacy that the nation has had to deal with since the dawn of democracy in 1994.

The Transport Month Campaign gives us an opportunity to take stock of improvement in our road infrastructure as a result of the numerous interventions undertaken so far, and the challenges that still remain. There are a few matters that need to be mentioned -those that detrimentally affect the service to our people. This relates to the perceived unco-ordinated manner in which rail transport matters are handled.

I will start with the state of the rail network and rail transport. Serious economic consequences have resulted from the country`s stagnating, poorly resourced and desperately inefficient rail system. In the last fifteen years, its share of the freight market has plunged to just 10%, neglect of the rail network, inefficiency and unreliability has impacted greatly on the way businesses view rail transport and the dependence they built up on road transporters to move their cargo.

Our roads were not constructed to carry anything like 32 million tons of freight a year. The consistent repair they need is testimony to the destruction wreaked by the overloaded mammoth trucks and tankers. Nationally, only half of the nation`s 20 000km of the railway lines is fully utilised. Some 35% of the nation`s lines carry no or very low activity. The railways failed to make the investment in the rolling stock and infrastructure demanded by the growing economy. The Spoornet rail monopoly must now dig deep into its pockets to get rail to the stage where it can out-compete with the road transport system that today has a 90% stranglehold on the country`s land cargoes.

Aging locomotives and wagons must be replaced. The average age of locos is twenty-two years and that of the wagon fleet is thirty-two years. Important railway centres like De aar and Noupoort in the Northern Cape have become virtual ghost towns due to the scaling down of the rail activity; leading to unemployment and concomitant poverty of the local population. The question remains to be answered: why has the rail infrastructure been allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that a virtually new system has to be built up from scratch?

Kukhona ekumele ngikudlulise masinyane. Kwi-Cope,kwembulwa kuyembeswa selidumela emasumpeni, kodwa-ke likhona ikhambi elingayisiza. Kufanele sibahlabele isibhuklabhukla esimhlophe sikalamthuthu sibuye sibaphalazise ngentelezi ebizwa ngokuthi iBuyel` ekhaya, sibaphunge ngeDel` amambuka emva kwalokho-ke sibashunqisela nge-Freedom Charter bese benikezwa inkululeko yomgwaqo omkhulu okuthiwa uMshini wami.

I-DA, ngizwe kuthiwa uMnumzane Jacobs uthi ngeke umuntu alale esitimeleni, kuyiqiniso Mnumzane Jacobs, ungalala esitimeleni. Kungenxa yokuthi ngeshwa nje angikholwa ukuthi uNgqongqoshe wake wasigibela noma yisiphi nje isitimela esiya elokishini, ngalokho-ke ngithi kubo i-DA ingochwepheshe bokwakha umgwaqo omkhulu oya kwaLasha. Lokho kubonakale ngobunyoninco bokwakha izindlu zangasese esidlangalaleni endaweni ebizwa ngokuthi kuseMakhaza, eKhayelitsha. Babuye futhi bakha izindlu zangasese ezimbili emphakathini olinganiselwa ezinkulungwaneni eziyisihlanu endaweni ebizwa ngokuthi kuseQolweni, e-Plettenberg Bay, eNtshonalanga Kapa.

The ANC Policy positions as a guide to government. The struggle for national democratic order in our country could be achieved through an integration of communities by doing away with racial apartheid spatial policies which was expressed in the road infrastructure development. For the ANC, development and maintenance of road infrastructure is not only important for economic development, but it is also a necessary basic need.

This was aptly described in the ANC foundational governance policy document of 1994, the reconstruction and development programme. It is stated that the future transport policy must promote
co-ordinated safety, affordable public transport as a social service; take into account the transport needs of disabled people; ensure comprehensive land use, transport planning; promote road safety; and review subsidies in both operating and capital.

Bese ngiyabuya futhi ngithi Mhlonishwa, siyakucela, lapho engisuka khona eMpumalanga kunogwaqo omkhulu okuthiwa i-Moloto Road. Abantu bangale eMpumalanga bacela ukuthi kufakwe ulayini wesitimela ozohlanganisa i-Pitoli kanye neKwaMhlanga ngoba iyaziwa iKwaMhlanga Road; minyaka yonke siyazi ukuthi izibalo zithi bangaki abantu abafayo kuloya mgwaqo. Sekukaningi sikucela lokhu kodwa impendulo singayitholi.

In addressing the legacy of the road infrastructure underdevelopment, the RDP further states that: "critical bottlenecks in the road infrastructure should be improved so that the full capacity of the existing road network can be realised". The provision of primary road infrastructure must be directed towards and take cognisance of public transport needs.

The planning of transport for metropolitan and major urban areas must be in accordance with an urban and metropolitan growth management plan. A hierarchy of modes should guide the financing of infrastructure improvement and payment of operating subsidised for public transport. Travel modes should not compete. In rural areas, provincial government and district councils must present public transport plans, including extensive road building and improvement.

The principles enshrined in the RDP have found their expression and subsequent policies and programmes, in particular the National Land Transport Strategic Framework, and the 2007 approved Public Transport Strategy which is currently implemented by government.

In terms of the National Land Transport Framework, public transport services facilities and infrastructure should be designed, provided and developed as to promote inter-modalism

Okokugcina nje, ngiyabonga kakhulu, Sihlalo