Keynote address by Minister of Transport, Jeff Radebe at the ANC KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Transport Indaba
Let me first express my gratitude for the invitation to be part of this Transport Indaba. This occasion is a clear manifestation of our wish to strengthen our public transport, which - without any doubt - provides new opportunities and added value to social and economic development.
It is very much regrettable that as we meet here, recently the media informed us of the very sad crime committed against a young woman whose own crime was merely dressing in a manner that is considered inconsistent with the tastes of some taxi drivers in a taxi rank in Johannesburg. We must all of us condemn such barbaric acts without reservations and urge the police to leave no stone unturned to bring the perpetrators to book.
Meanwhile, we will speed up our efforts at increasing security in all our public transport terminals, but we cannot do this successfully if this is without the co-operation of public transport operators who in this case have been the actual culprits. Unfortunately, this very sad incident has re-enforced the view that taxi drivers are a law unto themselves, and we must all work together to confront this, be it a mere perception or a reality, because after all these are our brothers, fathers, husbands, mothers, sisters and wives, who are operators in the taxi industry.
The fact that the invention of the wheel is still considered a huge revolutionary milestone in the history of the development in general, is itself an indication of the important role played by transport in the economy and in society at large. Today it is no wonder that oil and fuel in general still play a critical role in the welfare of people and the performances of the world economy. As the price of fuel increases, it increases the prices of transport and by extension the prices of production, provision of various services and puts a burden on the cost of living.
While the role of transport in our economy is well documented, our people know the importance of transport from their everyday experiences, as they go to work, to school, to hospitals, to visit friends and relatives. Our people know the hardships of staying in rural areas because of scarce public transport. The presence or absence of an efficient public transport system can be a matter of life and death to a sickly person in the rural parts of our country. The same could be said of a hungry person, of a person seeking a job in order to escape the entrapment of poverty, basically transport affects all the spheres of our development and human endeavours.
As government, and as a movement, we must show that we care about the huge impact that transport issues have on the lives of our people as well as on our economic growth and development. Our ability to spearhead growth and development would therefore be partly measured by our success or failure to provide a transport system consistent with the demands in our economy.
Some of the challenges we are faced with relates to a growing economy that resulted, amongst others in shortages to energy supply hence the load shedding, a growing population which is now increasingly integrated into our metropolitans that was previously locked into the reserves of homelands, as well as an old and ailing transport infrastructure that was built to serve the few but now due to the imperatives of the new dispensation must serve all our people.
In his Budget Speech this last Wednesday, the Minister of Finance, comrade Trevor Manuel said: "The current account deficit makes the economy more vulnerable, especially during times of stress in global financial markets. Our ability to continue boosting investment to drive long-term growth therefore depends on increasing savings and expanding exports. Further progress is required on the microeconomic policy front if we are to address this macroeconomic imbalance. Barriers to faster export growth include skills shortages, transport capacity constraints, high telecommunications costs and tariffs that raise the price of imported intermediate and capital goods".
Therefore the capacity to meet the social needs of our people, while at the same time locating transport as an important driver of economic growth and development requires that we continuously assess the capacity of our transport system. I therefore take it that this meeting must contribute in a major way towards ensuring this capacity. Our failure would also invariably fail the rest of the economy, and indeed we dare not fail! Together we must provide leadership, suggest appropriate solutions and implement them with vigour and vigilance.
We therefore cannot talk about public transport and economic development without a brief reference to what has located public transport at the centre of our economic development. It is perhaps for this reason that I want to make a brief reference to the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS 2003). According to the Travel Survey;
* 38 million citizens live in households with no access to a car
* 40 million citizens do not have a driver's licence
* 14 million learners walk to school
* 13,7 million citizens use public transport at least once a week
* 7 million workers and learners use public transport
* 7 million citizens use a car.
It is quite clear that despite the growth in car use, public transport and walking are still the predominant "lifeline" forms of mobility for the vast majority of South Africans in order to access work, schools and services. In particular, in eThekwini there are 32 percent of the passengers using mini-bus taxis and 19 percent of the passengers using buses.
Public transport strategy and plan
Chairperson, it is against this background that in March 2007, the Cabinet approved the Public Transport Strategy and Action Plan 2007 to 2020 in order to create a lasting legacy of the public transportation in South Africa. The key pillars of the strategy are the transformation of the public transport through the Acceleration of Modal Upgrade, and the attainment of the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Networks. With Phase one of the action-plan targeting up to 12 cities and six districts for initial implementation of Integrated Rapid Public Transport Networks between now and 2010.
The key pillars of our strategy consist of:
* upgraded modal fleet, facilities, stops and stations
* extended hours of operation to between 16 to 24 hours
* peak frequencies of 5 to 10 minutes, off frequencies of between 10 to 30 minutes and hourly night service
* target 85 percent of all residents in urban areas to be within 1 kilometre of
Rapid Public Transport Network by 2020
* safe and secure operation monitoring by Intelligent Transport System Control Centres
* electronic fare integration and single ticketing when making transfers
* integrated feeder service including walking, cycling and taxi networks
* integration with metered taxi services and long distance intercity services
* car competitive public transport option which enable strict peak period car use management.
The integral part of this approach comprises of the South African Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC)/Metrorail Rail Priority Corridors, the Gauteng Rapid Rail Link as well as Bus Rapid Transit Corridors, recapitalised and regulated taxi services including Mini and Midi Bus taxi as well as metered taxis. The three spheres of government are already working closely together to ensure the speedy implementation of this plan.
We have adopted the bus rapid transit systems as a key component of our strategy and as an innovative mechanism for the implementation of high quality public transport networks that operate on exclusive right of way and which will incorporate current bus and minibus operators into a high quality system with no loss of income or jobs.
My department is already in discussion with the metropolitan cities and related provinces and the BRT Phase 1 scooping plans have been completed in Mangaung, Polokwane, Rustenburg, Mbombela and the Buffalo municipalities. Some cities such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela are already finalising Phase one Operational Plans and the implementation will commence once these plans have been completed. In particular, we are working closely with eThekwini
Transport Authority and the KZN Transport Department in order to finalise a scoping study for an Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network that links the Rail Corridors and Bus Rapid Transit. The next step requires the city to develop a detailed Network Operational Plan and it is that the options raised in the detailed plan will be fully tested with all stakeholders (especially the existing operators). A similar process will also commence in Msunduzi which is one of the 12 cities identified in our Public Transport Action Plan.
The rural districts are also expected to commence with their network planning, once capacity and financial resources have been allocated. It must also be emphasised that my department is in the process of establishing five panels of experts in the areas of implementation, management, intelligent transport systems, accessible transport planning and rural transport network planning in order to procure services of experts from these panels and deploy to cities and rural districts requiring technical support.
National road passenger plan
Chairperson, in line with our public transport strategy and plan, we have had to also interrogate the machinery of our road-based public transport in order to develop a National Passenger Road Plan. This plan is now serving as our framework for the integration of road-based public transport system, and most importantly it serves as a guide in transforming the subsidised commuter bus regime into an integrated road based public transport system.
The National Passenger Road Plan explains the strategic case for the transformation of the present subsidised commuter bus route contracts into a more sustainable system of public funding for integrated road-based public transport networks. It also sets out procedures for achieving the restructuring of the subsidised contracts as the commuter bus industry becomes integrated into the newly regulated minibus-taxi.
It estimates an increased subsidy costs of a fully integrated, regulated road-based public transport industry, compared to the current cost of the bus only subsidies which at present stands at 7 119 buses being subsidised to a tune of R 2,8 billion.
The aim is for major cities to upgrade their bus and minibus services to Bus Rapid Transit level of quality respectively. Ultimately these services will be fully integrated to form a single system regardless of mode.
In particular, the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province has a total subsidised bus fleet of about 1 650, which amount to R500 million of the total national subsidised fleet. As mentioned earlier, the KZN Transport Department and the eThekwini Transport Authority have also embarked on a scoping study to develop the public transport operational plan. The plan will determine how the road based public transport system including buses will be rationalised to complement the North-South rail backbone. The city has also launched the "People Mover" concept that provides inner city circulation services used both in the tourism industry as well as by residents. The operational plans would also have to indicate how the inner city circulation service could be replicated and linked to the line haul services in order to minimise the need for multiple transfers.
It must be noted that in line with the rollout of the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Service Networks, there is a need to not only link the public transport networks to major long distance stations and terminals but also to implement a phased strategy of upgrading and expanding long distance coach and rail services.
By 2020 a planned long distance integrated network will be phased along similar lines as the local network. This will include publicly planned routes, service quality and schedules, public management of facilities, stations and terminals; and contracting current informal operators to provide a higher quality, scheduled service.
Phase 1 of this plan will include;
* finalisation of the strategic demand and supply profiling of the major long distance road corridors by June 2008 in order to develop a data-driven basis on which to plan infrastructure, facilities and operations
* review and streamline the licensing and regulatory issues that affect long distance operations by June 2008
* improved long distance road and rail terminals in each city and district.
In addition, we have also identified a need for the contracting authorities to define the role of the metered taxis within the broader framework of the National Road Passenger Plan.
Taxi Recapitalisation Programme
Chairperson, the taxi industry is an integral part of the transformation of the public transport system. Its transformation will have a very significant impact on the structure of the taxi industry, associations governing the industry and the operational areas and corridors served by the minibus-taxis. We will continue to pursue the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme in order to ensure public transport is comfortable, reliable and safe for our people to use. Indeed we can agree with the President of our country, in that if the taxi industry is to meet our people's needs, it must be business unusual!
As you are well aware, the physical rollout and implementation of the Taxi Recapitalisation Project (TRP) started on the 28th of October 2006 in the Free State. Since the Botshabelo launch, scrapping facilities exist in all provinces. To date, over 13 000 old taxi vehicles have already been physically scrapped and 23 000 operators have also applied for scrapping.
Since the initiation of the scrapping process, about R668 million has been paid out as scrapping allowance to qualifying operators. And we are confident that scrapping figures will increase as the scrapping process is gaining momentum.
We are also far advanced with the conversion of radius permits to route-based operating licences. We believe that the conversion process will have the effect of confining operators to specific routes within the specified area. And so far more than 80 000 route-based operating licences have been approved. We believe that this system will indeed deal with route encroachment and will go a long way to quell violence within the taxi industry.
The National Road-Based Passenger Plan also presents a superb opportunity for the recap vehicles to be used in road based public transport contracts where the vehicles can be utilised on certain timetabled routes. These arrangements will typically take place where an existing operator in possession of a recap vehicle agrees to participate as a shareholder of a company formed to participate in the provision of scheduled public transport services within the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Networks.
Provisions are being made for special purpose taxi subsidy that will address the sustainability of essential services connecting with and outside the network.
We believe that this approach will ensure the sustainability of the
minibus taxi industry and that the taxi recapitalisation project does not become an ongoing intervention. This will also provide government with a mechanism to ensure that public transport services especially taxi services are not subject to destructive competition as this severely hampers the quality of service.
The current system of associations established in the National Land Transport Transition Act (NLTTA) formalised the taxi industry into registered taxi associations in provincial and local authority areas. These associations perform valuable role in providing the structure in the industry and by organising the industry in such a way that it responds to the passenger demand on movement corridors.
The transformation of the road based public transport network and services as envisaged in terms of our National Road based Passenger Plan will have the effect of reducing the role of associations over the long term as minibus-taxi type services are transformed into contracted scheduled services. This will provide the opportunity for many taxi operators to move from being a member of an association operating a taxi type service into one of being a bus operator within a formal company structure.
This means that the critical function of associations in future will be to represent the common interest of its members and not to involve itself in operations.
Operating licences strategies and route rationalisation would be left as a domain of transport authorities to determine redeployment of taxi operators to alternate routes based on demand.
Ladies and gentlemen, our public transport strategy and plan also puts greater emphasis on the improvement of passenger rail services, both short-and-long distance services. Our emphasis on passenger rail services is premised on the fact that this is a prime mass-mover of our people, particularly workers who commute daily between areas of work and their residential areas. It follows therefore that an efficient rail system would most massively assist in the resolution of our public transport problems.
In order to improve this service, the South African Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC) and Metrorail have concluded the first phase of the consolidation, which saw Metrorail consolidated within the SARCC. The once off cost of this consolidation amounted to R800 million. The second phase of the consolidation that involves the merger of the long distance passenger rail entity, Shosholoza Meyl within SARCC will be completed by April 2008.
The Cabinet has also approved the National Passenger Rail Plan which is our initiative to secure the future of commuter rail by applying the priority corridor strategy to the rail network throughout the country. The intention is to extend the rail service to areas previously not covered and to improve the efficiency of the existing passenger rail lines.
The ANC government has also committed over the next three years in excess of R16 billion to improve our passenger rail system. A significant portion of this fund has already been committed by the SARCC to upgrade almost 2 000 of its 4 600 coaches around the country.
The SARCC has begun to spend over R7 billion as part of its Rolling Stock Investment Programme. Major contracts of 3 to 5 years have been entered with all the rolling stock suppliers.
Of all the 500 coaches due in this current year, Durban has to date taken delivery of 8 of the 10 M5 train sets at a cost of about R345 million, and another six sets of the 10M5 series planned for this year at a cost of R259 million. I am aware that the SARCC plans to build on current capacity another 9 upgrades at a cost of R389 million.
This delivery of coaches is aimed at improving train availability nationally to 96 percent of the current fleet by 2010.
This is supplemented by a further investment of R680 million per annum in infrastructure and developments in the form of signalling and station upgrades. An additional R1,1 billion has been allocated over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) 2007/08 and 2009/10 budget cycle for upgrade signalling and telecommunications and to support the accelerated rolling stock programme. Our short-term plan is also the implementation of a R2 billion station upgrade programme particularly for the projects critical for the hosting of the 2010 soccer world cup. Our long term
plan is to invest R15 billion for the upgrade of our flagship stations such as Park and Durban stations in order to attract more passengers to our trains.
In particular, the South African Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC), the Ethekwini Metro Council, Crowie Projects, and other key partners have embarked on the R5 billion Bridge City Initiative as a way of forging strategic partnerships in order to bring forward the implementation of the rail plan for the Greater Inanda Rail Corridor.
Construction is underway for the delivery of a shopping mall, with the SARCC expected to deliver a 3 kilometre double line from Duff Station as well as a world-class, underground station to cater for 40 000 passengers in the peaks. The South African Rail Commuter Corporation will invest in excess of R350 million that will see easier and greater access to a quality public transport services for the people of Inanda, Ntuzuma, KwaMashu as well as Phoenix. The first phase of the project has commenced and will be completed in October this year.
Special attention is also being given to improve security measures within the railway environment. This strategy includes a co-operative agreement with South African Police Service to invest in security related infrastructure required for the establishment and rollout of a dedicated railway police unit. To date, the construction of police stations in Cape Town, Durban, Retreat, Bellville and Phillippi Stations has been completed. Construction has also started in areas such as KwaMashu, Tshwane, Denneboom, Mabopane, Germiston, New Canada and Johannesburg Stations.
With the re-introduction of the railway police, we have seen a significant drop in crime within our trains as well as in our train stations. Crime has been cut down by 38 percent in the last financial year ending 31 March 2007. Among the key successes in this financial year, the Railway Police made 28 000 arrests, of which 9 000 were for serious crimes. To date, the South African Police Service has trained and deployed in excess of 1 700 constables, with 250 deployed in the Ethekwini Region. The main target remains the deployment of 5 000 members by 2010.
The strategic partnership between the SAPS, public transport authorities and operators is a key part of our plan to restore public confidence in the public transport system as a whole.
We are beginning to see improvements on some of the key corridors in terms of personal safety, punctuality, income, reduced fare evasion and operational safety. In the case of Durban, revenue has increased by 10 percent in the past year, the crime index show a decrease in crime of 0,4, punctuality improved to 85 percent with passenger journeys increasing by 20 percent year on year whilst cancellations have shown signs of decreasing. I must say that SARCC is achieving all of these despite the many difficult challenges, especially the unavailability of trains to meet all the requirements as well as the bigger challenges of our trains being torched in areas such as Mabopane and Garankuwa.
2010 public transport infrastructure
Chairperson, my presentation will be incomplete without a brief reference to the 2010 public transport preparations. As you are well aware, our planning for 2010 World Cup and Public Transport were boosted by an allocation of R9,2 billion over the MTEF period being spent by various host cities and state owned entities for the preparation specifically in relation to the public transport infrastructure.
Let me report that our implementation of the 2010 Transport Action Agenda is well on track. All the host cities have already started with the implementation of the physical projects funded through the Public Transport Infrastructure and Systems Grant, include among others the following broad categories:
* public transport links and facilities
* public transport interchange facilities
* rail infrastructure and systems upgrade
* inter-modal facilities
* stadia links
* stadia precincts upgrade
* bus rapid transit systems etc.
And our initial estimated number of vehicles required for the World Cup includes:
* 60 train sets
* 500 luxury couches
* 10 000 minibus taxis.
Some of the projects under construction include:
* the Khululani Corridor in the Eastern Cape at a cost of R321 million
* the N1 and N2 Toll Highway in Polokwane and the Western Cape costing R5 billion with 3 200 jobs created
* the Rea Vaya BRT system in Johannesburg at a cost of R1,3 billion
* the Public Transport Interchange in Ethekwini at a cost of R309 million
* the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Scheme at a cost of R23 billion
* the BRT networks in Tshwane at a cost of R107 million.
Let me, by way of conclusion, offer a different way of explaining the challenge we face. The question we face is how do we ensure that the huge investments we are making advance a lasting legacy of public transport? As fuel costs escalates with projected diminishing oil reserves globally as well as the political instabilities in the regions endowed with these oil reserves, we must plan for both today and the future. The mistakes of failing to plan for future energy needs have partly resulted in the challenges of load shedding we have faced recently. Given that it takes nearly ten years to build power stations, this is a problem we must never again repeat or replicate in the transport sector.
As we anticipate that the country will build more nuclear power stations, this will augur well for growth in the use of rail for both passenger and goods transport. Our plans must not just be seen to be attending to immediate solutions, while in the long run would be found wanting. In many developed countries, there is evidence that public transport will increasingly play a major role in moving people and we have made a case about the significance of passenger rail both a prime mass mover as well as its advantages over fuel based road transport as opposed to electricity.
When faced with the necessity to act, humankind has in fact a history of delivering - from the wheel to putting a man on the moon.
So let's together ensure that in the years ahead public transport becomes one of the major solutions to economic growth, no longer simply one of the problems. Our outlay of the transport sector with regards to its development would also be indicative of our grasp of what is requisite to develop our economy in its various fronts into the future.
That is our shared challenge. That is our shared responsibility. And I believe it can be our shared achievement. Lets us make these solutions possible for ourselves while leaving behind a lasting legacy for posterity to build further on its own development.
Issued by: Department of Transport
22 February 2008