Vote 40: Transport NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FRIDAY, 21 MAY MINI PLENARIES (VIRTUAL) 10:00 – 12:15

Hon. KP Sithole

 

Honourable Speaker

This Budget Report shows serious signs of an absolute disregard for ensuring a safe and developing transport model in South Africa. This Department submits half-baked ideas and a copy-and-paste attitude to the information it provides. The Department, in its Budget Report, obviously does not respect the work of Parliament as it is clear that the submission of these reports are not intended to improve the country’s transport model but rather, just to see how much money it can get from the public purse.

The Budget of this Department blows hot air into directives issued to improve the safety of transport network users. In this same way, the Minister provides us with empty promises for finding a solution to e-tolls. Earlier this month, it seemed Minister Mbalula was bored with himself, as he made all sorts of proclamations to the NCOP about resolving the e-tolls. As we have come to expect, he has broken down on the side of the road of his journey in concluding this issue. The IFP is equally frustrated with this Minister and his lazy attitude in addressing this matter. E- tolls have a devastating effect on road users in Gauteng, especially on many companies who struggle to operate in the current economic climate. The irony here is that businesses are having to close early or cannot trade due to Eskom’s erratic load-shedding, yet the e-toll gantries have sufficient power to suck the last few cents from our citizens.

Unfortunately, we should not hold our breath in the hope that the Minister will take this Report seriously, as this Department shows no respect for the values of accountability and responsiveness, as promised in our Constitution. For example, directives were issued to PRASA by the RSR, which has been unacceptably ignored. What is the point of spending money to establish supporting functions when the Departments have the freedom to ignore directives without any good reason.

This level of disrespect places South Africans at great risk. Before we knew of the risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, our lives hung in the balance due to transport safety. For example, the potholes in our roads are becoming worse, and criminals are using the damage caused by them to their advantage. Government is lacking in their crack-down and safety inspection of Taxis that have been converted from panel vans, which is cause for concern.

Then there’s the problematic way scholar transport is handled. Recent reports highlight the importance and reliance on the service of scholar transport for those children who would otherwise not be able to go to school. Unfortunately, the model of operation differs from province to province. This sector needs to develop a set of regulations that contain overall guidelines of how services are conducted, whilst allowing provinces to control the demand, area, payments and safety enforcement of scholar transport.

As we await the slow roll-out of the vaccine, Covid-19 is dealing us its 3rd blow. In order to avoid a total knock-out in the transport industry, this Department needs to start issuing the R1 Billion Covid Relief Funds promised to the taxi industry. Citizens cannot be placed at risk because government has not sufficiently controlled the taxi industry, which has allowed for many illegal and non-complaint operators. Taxis need to be sanitised more thoroughly, PPEs need to be available in abundance and overall proper planning needs to take place, in order to put our people first.

The IFP supports the Budget Vote for Covid safety reasons.