Minister of Transport
Executive Mayor and Councillors of OR Tambo District
Executive Mayor and Councillors of the King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality
Director-General and officials of the Department of Transport
Head of Department and officials of the Provincial Department of Transport
Transport Sector Stakeholders
Women in Transportation Business
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
It is gratifying to finally open the Jubilee Square Taxi Rank here in Mthatha after numerous attempts to build this facility by my two predecessors.
The Public Transport Facility that we opened this morning cost the Eastern Cape Department of Transport R29 million and it comprises of taxi rank and small business trading shelters.
The site chosen for this development was previously a rubbish tip, located in a fairly depressed part of Mthatha. The flight of businesses from the area has seen a general decline of the surroundings, with clear and evident signs of urban decay.
This Urban Renewal Project is set to change the general appearance of the surrounding areas forever.
As government, we appreciate the collaboration between Rainbow Place Properties 89 in conjunction with various local Stake Holders (Eastern Cape Taxi Council, Mthatha Taxi Owners Association, Taxi Women’s Desk and the local Hawkers association, to name a few) in this project.
This facility will provide public transport services in a cohesive and co-ordinated manner thus helping alleviate the dire traffic congestion this area is renowned for.
This initiative clearly demonstrates government’s commitment to improve access to public transport and ensure that transport planning becomes a critical element of town planning as this facility is a gateway to the City of Mthatha from Durban on the N2 National Highway and serves as the biggest and busiest transfer point within the OR Tambo District. This has choked further economic development of the entire city which is almost wholly dependent on public transport.
Jubilee square was designed to create more than 1000 jobs both during and after construction and it forms part of a strategy to improve public transport system in the Province.
We call upon the public transport industry, particularly taxi operators and the hawkers to support and keep safe this facility.
The municipality has a responsibility to ensure that the facility’s operations are regulated.
Honourable Minister, this is, indeed, an opportune moment for us to unveil these milestones, when our county is celebrating the 2012 October Transport Month with a particular focus on: Job Creation, Improvement of Infrastructure, Public Transport, Transport Safety, and Skills Development.
On behalf of Provincial Government, we appreciate the collaboration that we have enjoyed this year with the National Department of Transport, Department of Basic Education, South African National Roads Agency Limited, Road Accident Fund, King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality and the OR Tambo District Municipality and Eqstrata.
We believe that this collaboration will enable us to:
Promote the short-term and long term transport plans of the Department of Transport, Public Entities and Municipalities
Highlight successes of all stakeholders in creating safe transport modes and contributions towards socio-economic development, innovation etc.
Mobilise public and private sector participation in transport projects aimed at developing the country’s economy and for sustainable job creation.
Through the National Department of Transport, Eqstrata is now our strategic partner in the “Driver for Walker” & “Walker for Driver” Campaign – a road safety initiative that seeks to improve the safety of pedestrians on our roads. Currently, 40% of road accidents in this province involve pedestrians.
We hope that the people of this region will support this initiative, because there are many hazardous locations that have been identified in this area for this project.
Honourable Minister, it is appropriate for me today to salute the OR Tambo District Community Road Safety Council for their innovation through the introduction of the Road Safety Peer Educators project together with the local youth from various surrounding schools monitor road intersections on a daily basis in order to save lives in order to contribute to the Decade of Action Campaign for Road Safety.
The rationale behind this broad target group is influenced by the methodology employed for the implementation of pedestrian education through interactive street education. Busy intersections are identified and teams are deployed at those corners to assist pedestrians on how to walk and cross the road safely.
Today we are also handing over learners licences to 109 youth of this district, who were successful in the Standardised Learner Driver Training Project that we are running in partnership with the National Department of Transport and the Department of Basic Education. Currently we have 142 participants from St Johns College (18), Ikwezi Skill Centre (18), Holomisa SSS (20), Efata School for the Blind and Deaf (6), KSD FET College (41), Walter Sisulu University (39).
Ladies and gentlemen, it is gratifying to observe the inclusion of learners with disabilities in this programme. The Eastern Cape Department of Transport is also running another pilot focusing both within the Department of Transport and for external people through our learners and drivers licence pilot project for people with disabilities.
This effort is a mandatory integration and mainstreaming of disabilities into departmental programmes, especially the core functions as a model of transformation.
We have a responsibility as government to ensure that we adhere to the provisions of the:
Constitution of the Republic of South Africa
Employment Equity Act
Code of Good Practice on the Employment of People with Disabilities
I would like to call upon:
The driving schools of the province to make means to accommodate disabled people
Municipalities to ensure that their traffic departments have instructors and testing officers, who are orientated or trained to deal with disabled people
Vehicle manufacturing companies must build more vehicles that can be utilised for training and transportation of people with disabilities.
On 30 October 2012, my department will launch a partnership with the Coega Development Corporation in order to improve access to learners and drivers licences for our youth in the Province.
Honourable Minister, we are satisfied with the progress made by South African National Road Agency Ltd (SANRAL) in the construction of the Mthatha Bridge, which is one of the King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality Presidential Intervention Projects.
We further appreciate the support that we continue to receive from national government through the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans in the upgrade of the Mthatha Airport.
This R354 million investment will help the airport to accommodate bigger aircraft. As the provincial department, we are going to accelerate the pace of the construction of the new terminal building worth R55 million.
The Terminal Building upgrade project is expected to improve the airport’s capacity as we continue to lobby and negotiate with more airlines to service the route between Mthatha and Johannesburg (as we currently have scheduled flights by Airlink on this route) as well as between Mthatha and Durban.
Provincial Government intends to have a service between Cape Town and Mthatha, via Port Elizabeth and Bhisho. Flights between these strategic economic centres then become necessary to fulfil the vision of a regional airport as a gateway to the region.
Our Provincial Agenda Programme (African National Congress, 2011) to achieve accelerated and shared growth in the east of Province includes the mobilisation of investment towards systematically dealing with structural poverty, increasing inequality and worsening unemployment.
The combination of state, private and community investment will only contribute to the achievement of shared growth by focusing on the creation of decent jobs through state led policy and programmes of development.
We believe that the pronouncement of the new ‘South Eastern Node and Corridor’ being planned for the Eastern Cape through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission to bolster the province’s industrial and agricultural development and export capacity cannot be successful if we cannot have an anchor logistical hub in the centre of the corridor.
As a Province, we are positioning Mthatha Airport through a three (3) Phase Programme to be a passenger and freight hub linking road, rail and air transportation and effectively becoming a gateway to the east of the Province.
This logistical hub will not only serve transportation and trade for this region but on a local level becomes the next urban centre as we deliberately develop the first of the four nodes of the City of Mthatha.
In this regard, as part of Phase 2, we are in advanced stages of inviting proposals for commercial property development targeting retail, conferencing and hospitality facilities on the non-airside area of the Airport.
Before I conclude, I would like to remind the people of the Eastern Cape about the process of the development of a Provincial Integrated Public Transport Master Plan, which is underway in order to improve the mobility and accessibility of our people, especially the rural poor, who rely on buses, taxis and trains.
The purpose of the plan is to address the unique needs of the Province, while simultaneously improving linkages with other public transport networks, including rail and road-based transportation.
This plan will serve as our compass moving forward, especially with regard to future public transport systems planning, funding, infrastructure development and operations. We believe that through this plan, we can improve connectivity among our people.
I would like to invite all the relevant stakeholders to the Provincial Public Transport Summit to be held in Port Elizabeth on 25 and 26 October 2012, where this plan is expected to be adopted by various stakeholders.
In conclusion, let us continue to encourage our people to be transportation activists in order to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy “quality transport systems for a better life for all.”
I thank you
Province Or State