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Address at the South African Transport Conference

Minister Ndebele CSIR, Tshwane, 06-07-2009

Programme Director;
Kenny Kistan – Chairperson of ATC;
Mr. Benoit Verhaege – Chairperson of the Organising Committee of the South African
Transport Conference;
Mr Randell Iwasaki from California DOT;
Professor J Mahoney, University of Washington;
Ms Susanna Zammataro - DDG – International Road Federation;
Conference Organizers;
Transport Experts and Researchers;
Representatives of Transport Organizations;
Transport Operators;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen,

This, the South African Transport Conference 2009 is an event whose time has come, coming on the eve of us hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2010. This gathering also comes three days after we presented the Budget Vote for the Department of Transport (DoT) to the National Assembly in Cape Town.

Ladies and Gentlemen the budget vote sets the stage and pace for the work of DoT for the rest of the financial year and represents our planned contribution to infrastructure in our country and the region. The budget also indicates our intentions in relation to key projects such as expenditure on public transport infrastructure such as taxis.

It also indicates our plans for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. As we stated in the National Assembly, we believe that the 2010 FIFA World Cup is not just about Sport, it is also about Transport. A team of 22 soccer players and a referee in an afternoon at Soccer City is merely a practice game. It becomes a soccer spectacle only once the stadium is full of cheering fans.

Those people can only get there because transport has transported them to the stadium. Even those who do not use our public transport facilities have to use our roads to get to the stadium.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup is about placing transport infrastructure at the head of moving South Africa from being a developing country, to being a developed country. This is because the absence of adequate transport infrastructure slows down foreign direct investment flows which are soon redirected away from developing countries.

Inadequate transport infrastructure is therefore a severe cost to country and we must ask if we can afford it or not. In other words for how long can our economies in Africa sustain the lack of adequate infrastructure?

Today’s conference takes place against the unfolding international economic crisis which is hampering growth and available budgets. If many countries the cutting of available budgets is likely to reduce expenditure on key projects or lead to their postponement if possible.

So, there will be no winner in the 2010 World Cup unless transport working with all relevant structures, ensures that we all can have a smooth ride by air, road, by rail and even by sea. Secondly, transport is a key to attracting investment into the country and continent; Africa cannot grow economically without adequate infrastructure a significant part of which has to be transport infrastructure. Thirdly, we can use transport infrastructure spending to shield our economy against the unfolding international crisis.

SA’S RESPONSE

Against this background we do not plan to cut down on planned expenditure on infrastructure projects. As a country we remain committed to spending all of R787billion planned on key projects including transport-related expenditure.

Let us therefore turn directly to the theme of this conference which is “Sustainable Transport”. No longer is the question of our time about growing our economies. The challenge today is about growing our economies in a sustainable manner.

More than ever before we recognise today that everything we do impacts on the future. It is said that we do not own the world we live in today; it is merely borrowed from generations of the future, our children and their children.

A SUSTAINABLE 2010

The 2010 FIFA World Cup provides us this platform which is not to spend, but to spend in a way which sustains our economies and preserve our collective future. We recently conducted the South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS) together with the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) on the: "Attitudes to Transport and 2010 World Cup in South Africa".

This research focused on issues pertaining to road congestion and public transport services and found the following prevailing attitudes and hopes among South Africans.

  • That infrastructure will improve
  • That public transport capacity and frequency will increase
  • That public transport improvements will benefit the poor
  • Better policing and security of transport facilities
  • Train coaches must be refurbished or upgraded
  • Minibus taxis should be regulated
  • At least 60% of the respondents want public transport improvements to be lasting or sustainable.

Based on these findings, the following recommendations are made in the report:

  • There is a need for integrated transport planning aimed at alleviating traffic congestion during the World Cup.
  • These developments must be sustainable beyond the World Cup.
  • A comprehensive mini-bus taxi strategy regulating the industry be developed and the taxis’ role in the World Cup and beyond clearly defined.
  • Infrastructure developments must benefit the poor

Ladies and Gentlemen, a sustainable transport sector must firstly be able to grow from year to year. Secondly its growth must be sustainable economically or from a financing point of view and thirdly, growth must be sustainable from an environmental point of view. Fourthly transport infrastructure growth must improve the lives of our people dealing with poverty and entrepreneurship.

To address some of the current transport challenges, we have increased our budget allocation for the transport infrastructure to prepare for the 2010 World Cup from R13.6bn to 19.6bn over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework so that transport logistics challenges will be addressed. The infrastructure projects are funded from the budget allocation and through traditional financing vehicles in the private sector.

Our National Household Travel Survey (NHTS 2003) revealed that:

  • 38 million citizens live in households with NO access to a car
  • 40 million citizens do not have a driver’s license
  • 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 ,and
  • 7 million citizens use a car

A SUSTAINABLE TAXI INDUSTRY

A sustainable public transport plan cannot exclude taxis from playing a bigger role in the economy of our country. As a starting point we believe that chaos, violence and volatility in the taxi industry belong in the past. For the taxi industry to be sustainable we must enter a post conflict era as a matter of urgency. Peace and a professional relationship between government, the taxi industry and passengers are non-negotiable.

We have started a CODESA of the taxi industry in a bid to have them as a key part of the South African economy. We are using our interaction to encourage the industry to participate in the entire transport value-chain. This includes buses, freight, rail, transport finance and fuel to mention a few. For a start our structured engagement focuses on five strategic areas:

  1. Implementing the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system and other Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) Projects;
  2. Taxi Subsidization and the Taxi Recapitalization Programme;
  3. Legislation, Licensing and Regulatory Issues;
  4. Enterprise Development; and
  5. Communication and Stakeholder Engagement.

RECAPITALISATION

We started the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme to get rid of old vehicles from our roads. These we believe cause accidents but also pollute the environment both as they use our roads but also when they are disposed without proper procedures as they reach the end of their life. Through the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme we will ensure proper disposal of old taxis and put back onto our roads new and safe vehicles on our roads.

To date more than 27 800 old taxi vehicles have been scrapped with more than R1.4bn paid out to operators. A total of R7.7bn has been allocated for the Taxi Recapitalization Programme.

SUSTAINABLE RAIL

With a population of 48 million people, South Africa has to pursue various efficient modes of transport. Our intention is to extend rail services to areas previously not covered and to improve the efficiency of the existing passenger railway lines. Government has committed over the next three years in excess of R18bn to improve our passenger rail system.

Ladies and Gentlemen some of the burning issues that this conference should be able to address include:

  • Elimination of missing rail infrastructure links;
  • Development of policies and instruments to bring private sector participation in the railways;
  • Identifying main Africa level infrastructure integration projects to achieve socio-economic objectives;
  • A clear articulation of the role of state in driving factors which contribute to the current state of the African rail network.

South Africa has gone a long way in arresting the decline in commuter rail services over the past few years. The future for inter-city travel, for example, will be in high-speed rail where the travel times for passengers will be significantly reduced. This will allow passengers and freight to move with speed, and that the competitiveness of rail will be enhanced.

GAUTRAIN

We are pleased that the GAUTRAIN project has created or sustained more than 12 600 local direct jobs and an estimated total of more than 68 000 indirect jobs. It has also contributed to Black Economic Empowerment.

ROADS

Our road infrastructure continues to be a priority for the Department. We have embarked on a programme to improve the capacity and technology of our road infrastructure. An essential partnership programme which is underway is the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.

It is targeted at the upgrading of the existing freeway and the new development after 2011. The completion of the project will result in a significant reduction of vehicle operating costs and other lower transport costs. We have made commitment to identify and address key challenges within the system such as the inappropriate institutional structure of the freight sector as well as the regulatory frameworks.

To match our freight development plan with growth and development our current projects include:

  • Branch Line Strategy
  • Road Freight Strategy
  • Border Optimization Plans
  • National Freight Master Plan
  • FIFA Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup Freight Plans
  • Airfreight Strategy
  • National Freight Databank Updated/National Freight Information System and
  • National Freight and Logistics

AVIATION

With regard to aviation, the increase in global air travel and tourism to South Africa is a good sign that our airports must expand and accommodate growth in tourism and economic growth. The R20bn infrastructure development that Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has embarked will play a significant role in accommodating the influx of passengers estimated at 43 million by 2010/11 while handling 611 631 aircraft landings.

The DoT is tasked with the implementation of transport logistics within the Global and regional context. Government has therefore entered into a number of agreements with other countries. We will combine the resources of our neighbouring countries to facilitate the development of transport infrastructure across the region and the continent as a whole.

These commitments and agreements extend into infrastructure investments that include corridor development, road and rail improvement, the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision and the improvement of connectivity.

So we urge that research must continue as they are the spinal cord of our Transport Master Plan and its implementation. As Government we will rely on credible scientific research to play a special role in the integration and development of our transport systems.

Our plans are that transport services and infrastructure must exceed the expected efficiency, safety, quality and cost effective requirements of the modern times and must be accessible to all visitors and residents and well after the 2010 World Cup is gone.

The implementation of the Public Transport Strategy will lead to a transport system with a lasting legacy for the growth and development of our country. The capacity to meet the social and economic needs of our people demands that we continue to assess and evaluate the capacity of our transport systems. This conference therefore ought to contribute in a manner that elevates this capacity.

We envisage that soon a planned long distance integrated network will be phased in – along similar lines as the local network – this will include publicly planned routes, service quality and schedules; public management of facilities, stations and terminals.

JOBS

Sustainability means that economic investment improves the lives of the people. For this reason through the Expanded Public Works Programme we will spend allocated budgets to create more jobs for our people.

Where possible these jobs will be sustainable and long-term in order to deal with the economic crisis facing our country. As President Jacob Zuma said, we must create 500 000 jobs by the end of year 2009. As DoT we will make our contribution to this effort through our labour intensive rural road maintenance programme

Finally, we recognise that users of our road, aviation and marine facilities emit harmful substances into the environment. Although we have moved towards electricity in rail, there remain some of our rail users who still pollute the environment. We will continue to collaborate with the relevant structures to ensure that we together reduce the damage we do to the environment.

In closing we are certain that transport must be at the centre of a sustainable economy. Failure of the transport sector to do so will considerably slow down the country and continent’s ability to face the future and to take our place among the nations of the world.

THANK YOU.

Minister of Transport

Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP
Minister of Transport
 

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