Contribution on Transport Debate

BY
HON. MB GWALA, MPL
KZN LEGISLATURE
4 JUNE 2020

Hon. Chairperson, Hon. Premier, Hon. MECs, Hon. Leader of the Official Opposition and Hon. Colleagues.

The IFP supports the 2020/21 Budget presented by Hon. MEC Bheki Ntuli, as alluded to by my colleague Hon. Moodley.

The IFP is concerned about the poor state of rural roads, which need serious attention. Many rural roads are still untarred and many others are in a state of disrepair, full of potholes. Roads are the arteries through which the economy pulses, linking producers to markets, workers to jobs, students to schools, and the sick to hospitals.  Roads are vital to any development agenda.

The IFP notes that the Department of Transport focuses on rural infrastructure development under Operation KuShunquthuli and the African Renaissance Roads Upgrading Programme. But the IFP is concerned that many people in rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal still have to use untarred roads. Some in the rural areas have to walk long distances to access public transport.

The IFP urges the Hon. MEC to conduct an audit of all roads – per district – that need urgent attention and repair. This will assist the Department in forming a clear picture of how many rural roads in the Province are in bad state. This will further ensure that funds are spent on existing roads that need urgent attention.

We urge the Hon. MEC to address the issue of poor roads in rural areas such as Nkandla. The Mayor of Nkandla, Cllr Thami Ntuli, has, on several occasions, written to the Department of Transport asking for a meeting with the officials to discuss the poor state of roads. However, no positive response has been forthcoming from the Department. Truly speaking, the roads in Nkandla have been deserted by the Department of Transport. Furthermore, the Department must allow municipalities to be fully involved in the issue of road construction, as they are the ones that know which roads need urgent attention.

LEARNER TRANSPORT 

We note that R366.8 million is allocated for learner transport. This will see 58 908 learners from 326 schools being transported. Although such amount has been allocated, the IFP feels that this is not enough. I was impressed by the MEC`s announcement that sixty pedestrian bridges are to be built over the next three years. We will be monitoring this very closely.

The shortfall of 117 248 learners who are supposed to be benefitting from learner transport must be urgently addressed by the Department.

These are the children who actually take a long walk to school, every day. By the time they reach their schools, they are tired and hungry. They will naturally have difficulty concentrating throughout the day, as the nutrition programme is in disarray – although it has nothing to do with the Department of Transport.

In fact, the Transport Department has not presented a provincial policy on learner transport. We urge the Hon. MEC to ensure that this matter is expedited. The IFP would like to know: which schools will be provided with scholar transport? When will they be provided with scholar transport? We would like to encourage the Department to consider the importance of having a uniform scholar transport service, with buses that are the same colour, although contracted to various service providers.

We note that the Department plans to provide bicycles to some learners who walk long distances to schools. As the IFP we wish to raise a serious concern regarding the effectiveness of the Shova Kalula programme. Our main concern is that this programme does not solve the problem of a lack of proper and safe learner transport. Hon MEC, we seek answers on what happens to bicycles at the end of their working life? Who is responsible for maintaining the bicycles, as poor learners find it difficult to maintain bicycles at their own expense? The IFP calls on the Hon. MEC to rather ensure that greater investment is made towards the provision of learner transport, rather than spending money on non-motorised transport, which does not benefit mountainous countries such as South Africa.

INCOMPETENT ROAD CONTRACTORS 

The IFP is concerned about incompetent contractors who get chosen so that they can benefit the corrupt officials within departments. The most important aspect of a quality project is the workmanship; unfortunately, poor quality workmanship can destroy projects already put in place.

The IFP demands that greater attention be given to project supervision by regulators in the road construction industry, since poor supervision of work is the major cause of poor workmanship.

Lastly, the IFP urges the government to ensure that tenders are awarded to competent contractors with impeccable track records and enough resources to carry out the construction work safely.

PEOPLE LIVING WITH DISABILITIES

I would not do justice to this Debate without touching on the issue of public transport that is not friendly to the many vulnerable persons, and persons with disabilities. KZN needs an accessible, affordable, safe, reliable, efficient, and integrated public transport system. All modes of public transport, like trains, buses, taxis, and air travel must be disabled-friendly. Cha ngoba bonke abantu bayancoma izithandwa zabo nami ngithi angithi Happy birthday kumkami okaDludla ozalwa namhlanje.

I thank you.