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Source: Eastern Cape Provincial Government
Title: Mhlahlo: Eastern Cape Transport Summit
Presentation by Hon Thobile Mhlahlo, MEC for Roads
and Transport at the Eastern Cape Transport Summit, Regent Hotel,
STRATEGIC PERSPECTIVE AND CHALLENGES IN THE TRANSPORT SECTOR
Honourable Member of the National Assembly
Honourable Members of the Provincial Legislature
Members of the taxi, bus, aviation, rail and maritime
Members of the big business community
Ladies and gentlemen
I would like to firstly express my sincere gratitude for your
attendance, which shows your commitment to assist the Department of
Roads and Transport in the Eastern Cape in its quest to provide a
quality transport service for all our people.
The economy of the Eastern Cape is characterised by extreme levels
of uneven development. This is evident through a number of
* The two urban industrial manufacturing centres and the poverty
stricken and underdeveloped rural hinterland particularly in the
former homeland areas of the Transkei and Ciskei;
* Between a developed commercial farming sector and a floundering
subsistence agricultural sector; and
* Between concentrations of fairly well developed and efficient
social and economic infrastructure in the western parts of the
Province and its virtual absence in the east.
Today we are testing our mandate as we strive to achieve our vision
of improving the mobility of our people, especially the rural poor
through provision of safe, accessible, efficient and affordable
transport system in this province. We are further charged with a
responsibility to align our programmes with the Provincial Growth
and Development Plan (PGDP) and Accelerated and Shared Growth
Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA) for the benefit of our
Eastern Cape is a rural province, which has its unique needs in
terms transportation infrastructure and our Provincial White Paper
on Transport seeks to address that. As we propel our transport
infrastructure development programme, we are mindful of the
necessity to ensure that we simultaneously to explore economic
development and job creation opportunities.
Public transport transformation
As we gear up for 2010 Soccer World Cup, we are expected to
accelerate the provision of transport infrastructure in order to
present our people and visitors with a transport system that would
meet world-class standards.
Our province has made visible advances in preparation for the Taxi
Recapitalisation Project. The National Land Transport Transition
Act, 2000 (NLTTA) requires all public transport operators who have
permits, which were issued on the basis of a radius or area of
operation to apply to the Provincial Licensing Board for conversion
of their permits to operating licenses on a route basis.
All district and metropolitan municipalities in the Eastern Cape
Province have prepared Current Public Transport Records (CPTRs) and
Integrated Transport Plans (ITPs), which indicate the routes
currently operated by public transport operators, as well as the
number of vehicles operating on these routes and the number of
passengers boarding public transport vehicles at formal taxi ranks,
bus stops and train stations.
The Licensing Board has already received about 7 000 applications
for converting permits into route operating licenses, which
indicates that 40% of the registered operators have responded.
These applications will now be forwarded to the district
municipalities for recommendations in terms of their ITPs, before
the Board approves the licenses.
This process has its own challenges as some taxi operators and
vehicle manufacturers have pointed out that the difference between
the cost of the existing 16 seater minibus and a new 18 seater
vehicle is much more than R50 000 and manufacturers are reluctant
to produce the new vehicle if it will be unaffordable to operators.
Visible and decisive advances have been made with regard to the
restructuring of the bus industry in this province.
The Department of Roads and Transport currently subsidises three
bus operation entities in the Province, namely Africa's Best 350
Ltd, which is a new company comprising previously independent bus
owners in the former Transkei, Mayibuye Transport Corporation which
was the previously government owned Ciskei bus company operating in
the former Border region and Algoa Bus Company, a Section 21
company based in the Nelson Mandela Metropole.
Africa’s Best 350 Ltd is a product of the restructuring
process, which has been established by 185 small bus operators, who
get subsidies from government as individuals. These operators came
together to establish this single legal entity, which is a 100%
black owned company in which all the operators are equal
shareholders. The state’s role is to subsidise the 166
identified routes for seven years with a R16.7 million subsidy per
year, which makes R73 million fare income for the company with a
R100 million annual turnover.
This year, we will officially launch this company, which is going
to service poorest people of this province. We have allocated R15
million for the recapitalisation of Mayibuye Transport Corporation,
and a further R30 million over the Medium Term Expenditure
Framework period. The challenge is to ensure that subsidies are
spent efficiently by the incumbent operators and that their
performance is monitored to check that service delivery is
When new routes for subsidised public transport services are
identified by planning authorities, opportunities must be provided
for other local operators who do not currently receive subsidy to
obtain contracts for subsidised service delivery. This can be done
either by competitive tendering or by negotiation on the basis of
subsidy rates paid to current contracted operators. The rural
nature of our province and transport infrastructure backlogs have
been another challenge that still confronts us, which makes it
difficult for rural communities to access public transport.
This has resulted in bakkies being the only vehicles that are
prepared to provide a public transport service to people in those
areas, which are not served by minibus taxis or buses. However,
bakkies are not considered to be a safe mode of passenger transport
in terms of the Road Traffic Act and cannot obtain an operating
licence as a public transport mode, unless they are lawfully
adapted according to acceptable safety standards and the Minister
makes provision for their use as a special category of vehicle by
notice in the Government Gazette, in terms of Clause 31(1) of the
National Land Transport Transition Act.
We have attempted to resolve this matter through calling upon all
registered vehicle manufacturers to design a vehicle that would be
suitable for rural conditions. Debbis Fleet Management developed a
prototype and presented to us. We made our inputs, which were based
on the improvement of safety measures.
Such adapted vehicle would be submitted to the Minister for
permission to be used in a pilot project in a rural area of the
Province to monitor their effectiveness and acceptability as a
public transport mode.
Infrastructure development for job creation and economic
The Provincial Growth and Development Plan (PGDP) contain a 10 year
strategy to reduce poverty and attain sustainable levels of
economic growth and job creation. Transport plays a vital role in
economic growth and reduction of poverty by enabling access to
markets and economic opportunities, as well as by providing job
opportunities in the construction of the infrastructure (i.e.
roads, railways, harbours, airports) and in the operation of
vehicles to carry people and goods for business and recreation
Of our R1.98 billion allocation, the roads infrastructure
development programme has the largest allocation of R1.48 billion
to ensure that we provide strategic road network, which is aligned
with the PGDP. This year, we will spend R630 million on new roads.
Over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework period, the department
plans to design and construct 1 100km of new surfaced roads.
In contributing to Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for
South Africa (AsgiSA) and to create more jobs, the Department will
this year set up a new Community Based Transportation Programme
with a budget of R84,5 million.
This new programme will specifically deal with community-based and
labour intensive methods of road construction and maintenance to
build sustainable livelihoods and push back the frontiers of
poverty. Through this programme, households will maintain certain
stretches of road and obtain permanent salaries from the
department. This includes road maintenance, upgrading,
construction, focus on roadside animal management, pedestrian
safety, footpaths, non-motorised transport, etc.
An amount of R48 million for the 2006/07 financial year for this
community based transportation programme, will be equally allocated
R8 million per district and will result in an estimated 30 000
additional work opportunities over the Medium Term Expenditure
Framework period. It will result in the construction of
approximately 300 km of new low volume roads and the maintenance of
approximately 5 500 km of existing roads, thus significantly
improving the quality of the overall provincial road network and
transportation system. The targeted roads will assist in improving
accessibility to economic activities, tourism opportunities,
schools, clinics and other government services.
Accelerating our moving back to rail
The railway network in the Province is a valuable asset that is
under utilised, with many branch lines and stations falling into
disrepair as a result of loss of market share and line closures by
Spoornet. The increase in volumes of freight traffic being carried
on the road network is causing many roads to need frequent repairs
or total reconstruction, as well as contributing to more traffic
congestion and more accidents. We strongly believe that there is a
need for us to “Move Back to Rail” and make the railway
system in the Province assist in the movement of freight and
passengers, so that rail services which were previously curtailed
due to decline in use can be restored to viability and contribute
to economic development.
The Department has been involved in a number of planning and
implementation initiatives to improve the efficient utilisation of
existing rail infrastructure in the Province and to promote multi
modalism. During the last few years, a number of rail orientated
projects have been initiated and this included the refurbishment of
the railway line between East London to Mthatha, widely known as
the Kei Rail Project.
We will have a fulltime operator on this railway line this year. In
accelerating our moving back to rail strategy, we will extend
commuter rail services between East London and King William's Town,
Port Elizabeth/Motherwell to Coega Industrial Development Zones
(IDZ) and reopen the railway line between King William’s Town
and Alice. Planning has been done for the two Industrial
Development Zones (Coega and East London) to upgrade their rail
links to the hinterland and Saldanha Bay to transport the bulk
materials they require for production of exports in the IDZs. The
motor industry in the province has expressed interest on this
strategy as it will assist in conveying vehicles to other parts of
Opportunities for aviation and maritime transport
The Department is responsible for the Bhisho and Mthatha airports
and provides assistance to municipalities who have airports and
airfields falling under their own jurisdiction. The White Paper on
Civil Aviation (2005), states that Government should not be
involved in airports operations, but should encourage private
Government, however, remains responsible for ensuring that airports
contribute to the socio economic development of the area in which
they are located.
Together with the South African Police Service (SAPS), we are
looking at ways and means of ensuring that we strengthen our
security measures on our airstrips.
We are currently involved in a process of restructuring the
operation of the Bhisho and Mthatha airports with the aim:
* To reduce the financial cost on the province; * To enhance the
usage of the airports; and
* Involve the private sector by outsourcing the airports
Although the operation of the Port Elizabeth and East London
harbours is the responsibility of Transnet, the province needs more
assistance in the development of other maritime facilities in
smaller coastal towns that can provide opportunities for economic
development through the fishing industry and for recreational
We have many coastal areas with huge economic potential such as the
Wild Coast, Port Alfred and Jeffery’s Bay. All we have to do
is to invest on these areas to ensure that they benefit from the
opportunities within the maritime sector.
The transport sector is beginning to take its rightful position in
the economic development of this country. Our role as various
stakeholders is to invest on this sector to ensure that future
generations benefit. We need to further ensure that the previously
marginalised get priority, especially women and physically
Issued by: Department Roads and Transport, Eastern Cape Provincial
20 April 2006