Enhancing Gauteng's public transport sector
After months of intense discussion with many parties interested and affected by the proposed amendments to the Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) Bill [G001-2017], the bill was passed by the Gautrain Provincial Legislature at a special sitting in the house on October 19, 2017.
The approved GMA Amendment Bill covers the objectives of the GMA, substitutes certain definitions, and extends the scope of projects that the agency may undertake and the functions of the GMA in order to improve Gauteng’s overall public transport sector offering.
It also provides for limitation of liability, consequential amendments and for matters connected with these amendments. Since inception the GMA has already, over and above its legislative mandate, performed other tasks related to improvements in rail and public transport in general.
“The benefits are multifold. The first major benefit is implementing legislation towards meeting Gauteng province’s obligation in terms of safe, affordable and reliable mobility to the citizens of Gauteng,” said the Honourable Jacob Khawe, chairperson of the Gauteng Roads and Transport Portfolio Committee, who presented the amendments at the House Sitting.
“We have the opportunity to pass laws and this one has been passed as we seek to build the province as an economic hub, creating an opportunity for the people of old townships to also be part of the mainstream of Gauteng province.
“What would happen as a consequence would be having an agency of men and women who would advance on transport knowledge.”
Khawe stressed that these men and women must be empowered to become transport specialists and experts who enhance existing and build new, invaluable infrastructure.
“Another benefit we can see as we look into 2018 is the introduction of new Gautrain locomotives and carriages. I say this because this the [GMA] board has already issued the call for integrated partnerships with entities that demonstrate the capability and capacity to build trains in this country — a new local development that will boost employment, skills and thus economic development.
“An invaluable benefit and outcome is the lesson we learned about involving ordinary people in law-making. It proved to be a really good learning curve that empowered us through the input from citizens of all ages who had the opportunity to participate in making the amendments possible.
“They were excited to listen to a transport expert and transportation individuals with knowledge — either academically or through experience, or both. We had these types of people [together] in one room with citizens. This is particularly good for our democracy and we should embrace it as a legislature,” said Khawe.
The Roads and Transport Committee had public engagements with Gautrain commuters on the route from Johannesburg to Pretoria to solicit views on the proposed amendment bill. The committee also engaged with 26 commuters who indicated among other issues that they were unaware of the amendment bill, and the committee then agreed to further extend the consultation process to ensure maximum participation.
“Through the advertisements in the Government gazette, online media, GPL website, newspapers as well as the public engagement workshop in Boksburg, the committee received four written submissions from organised stakeholders and members of the public,” said Khawe.
“As part of extensive stakeholder and public consultation the committee invited and interacted with the three metropolitan municipalities’ departments of transport, Section 79/80 Committees on Transport, the national department of transport, independent transport analysts, commuter organisations, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Transnet, the Rail Safety Regulator and members of the public from Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Pretoria.
“The process followed began in March, 2017, ending on October 19 with approval.”
In closing, on behalf of the committee, Khawe thanked Gauteng MEC for roads and transport Ismail Vadi, senior officials of the GMA and committee members for their “commitment to the oversight process” as well all stakeholders who engaged with the committee during the process.
Clarifying roles, establishing boundaries
The Democratic Alliance (DA) objected to clauses two, three and 12 of the bill, essentially due to the granting of additional empowerment to the Gautrain Management Agency (GMA). “The DA’s concern is not their own concern, but based around community discussions,” explained the Honourable Jacob Khawe, chairperson of the Gauteng Roads and Transport Portfolio Committee.
DA counsellor Fred Nel said in the house that while the DA approves the amendments to the bill, it cannot support the bill granting wide powers that could conflict with the transport authority. “The GMA must focus on its core business,” he said. “There is no doubt that the expertise of the GMA could be of value, but general public transport is not its core business.
“The DA’s concerns are based around the statement made by Gautrain management about their willingness to help establish a Gauteng Transport Authority (GTA),” said Khawe.
“We have agreed with the GMA on the principles around the GTA and introduced into the amendments the words ‘integrated’ and ‘rail-related’ to ensure that boundaries are established,” said Khawe. “This is where possibly the DA has missed the point, because we will seek advice from the GMA based on integrated and rail-related matters. When we say Gautrain, we refer to rail, however if we are discussing trains and buses, then we are talking about rail-related matters. As we speak, Gautrain runs buses, thus we talk around integrated, rail-related issues. This makes the mandate very clear.”
The nitty-gritty of the Amendment Bill
Clause 1 of the bill provides for the amendment of the definition of the “project” and “concession agreement” to expand the scope of the Act.
Clause 2 of the bill provides for the amendment of section four of the Act to incorporate the agency’s role in assisting or acting for any organ of state to enable it to realise its public transport and rail-related objectives, and to expand its objects and to update the reference to the integration of public transport and rail services in the province with other transport plans.
Clause 3 of the bill provides for the amendment of section five of the Act on the functions of the agency to expand them accordingly.
Clause 4 of the bill provides for the amendment of section 13 of the Act to provide that members of the board of the agency may serve for more than one term, as long as they do not serve for more than two consecutive terms.
Clause 5 of the bill provides for the amendment of section 19 of the Act to provide that committees of the board must consist of at least three members, because one-person committees are not considered advisable.
Clause 6 of the bill provides for the amendment of section 20 of the Act to effect a correction and to provide that the board must summarise the board’s charter in each annual report, rather than every three years.
Clause 7 of the bill effects a consequential amendment to and correction of section 28 of the Act.
Clause 8 of the bill effects a consequential amendment of and correction to section 34 of the Act, and updates the reference to the National Land Transport Transition Act, 2000 which has been replaced by the National Land Transport Act, 2009.
Clause 9 of the bill effects a consequential amendment of and improvements to section 38 of the Act.
Clause 10 of the bill provides for the insertion of a clause on limitation of liability, which is a standard clause in Acts of this nature.
Clause 11 of the bill substitutes words and expressions to provide for the change in the definitions of “project” and “GTIA” (Gauteng Transport Infrastructure Act).
Clause 12 of the bill provides for the amendment of the law mentioned in the Schedule to the Bill. It provides for the amendment of section 56 of the GTIA, 2001 to empower the MEC to delegate the abovementioned rail-related functions to the agency, subject to conditions that the MEC may determine.
Clause 13 of the bill substitutes the long title, to enable the agency to assist the province in performing the province’s public transport and rail-related functions that may be delegated to the agency.
Clause 14 of the bill provides for the short title.
All these clauses were either adopted as introduced or with amendments. More detailed information is available on //gpl.gov.za/.