Hon House Chairperson, hon members, the hon Minister has an exciting assignment in Transport. It would be instrumental in what hon President Zuma described as an opportunity to embark on radical socioeconomic transformation. Referring to the National Development Plan, the President was clear in announcing that "the economy takes centre stage in this programme". This is indeed where Transport should take its position - at centre stage. This requires new thinking, with innovative approaches, and not more of the same, as in the past.
My input on the current state of transport seeks to reflect pride in our country, an aspiration to compete globally and a deep concern for what we do with the revenue collected from our citizens. The concerns that millions of people are facing is echoed by a spectrum of economic indicators, like low GDP rates, a high Gini coefficient, poor foreign direct investment, dwindling business confidence and unstable inflation. The decline in many of these indicators can be associated with the need to improve our transport infrastructure so as to better connect business to markets, transfer goods and unlock the country's economic potential.
Most of the department's key performance indicators are congested with phrases such as "the development of various strategies", "the review of various strategies" and "the establishment of various regulators". These do not reflect smart principles and, ultimately, do not hold the promise of change for the commuter, taxi driver, business and international partners.
Initiatives like the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading, VPUU, project in Harare, Khayelitsha are prime examples of integrated planning allowing for better pedestrian access and connecting commuters to a variety of transport options that include car, bus, taxi and rail at the Kuyasa, Chris Hani and Khayelitsha transport interchanges. In contrast to this, we have been waiting for the Moloto Rail since 2003.
John F Kennedy said: "Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction." Governance should be measured by the promises that were kept and not by the best-sounding ideas. Simply put: Solution should follow and speak to the problem. In this regard, there is a serious disconnect on various levels and spheres in transport. Key to this is to honour public participation and inclusive opinion.
As a caring party, the DA is upset that unsafe vehicles are still transporting children to school and that taxi drivers have no employment contracts. Why must we argue and fight to get funding for alternative roads or e-tolls, especially when trucks cause the most damage to these municipal back roads? Why don't we save the money and simply bring the trucks back to the main tolled road and let them drive for free? This is an example of how you can align the principles of the NDP to infrastructure and economic development and growth.
Hon members, what happened to the dial-a-pothole campaign? Did anybody answer? The S'hamba Sonke conditional grant, which was launched in 2011 to do exactly this, has been diluted to what was described last week, on 8 July 2014 as, "There is only R9,6 billion currently available." Government is breaking cars, taxis, buses and trucks due to unmaintained roads. Rather, fuel levies should be ring-fenced for the construction and maintenance of roads.
With over R240 billion collected since 1998, instead of spending this money on roads, it has been blown on fire pools in Nkandla and private flights around the world for certain Cabinet colleagues. In the interest of improving services and the public's experience of public transport services, more must be done towards better structure and to integrate existing taxi services into programmes designed to improve the safety and reliability of public transport.
In the DA-run Western Cape, around 100 minibus taxi drivers will be trained to operate a new MyCiTi bus route in Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and Cape Town. We are also in need of better management institutions to govern our roads. The proposed Road Accident Benefit Fund Scheme Bill, in its draft form, is a prime example of silo thinking. For example, against the current deficit of R49 billion, it is estimated that the current staff component of 2 513 - which has grown at a rate of 17,1% to R996 million in 2013-14 - will increase to well over 2 800. In other words, about R404 million will be spent on an additional staff component of about 300 people. Government should be limiting our public sector wage bill and not rapidly adding to it.
Now, in keeping with the Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill, clause 35 effectively deprives foreigners who are not ordinarily residents of South Africa, for instance tourists, from receiving a temporary or long-term income benefit. Excluding such persons is not good for our image as a tourist destination and will deter crucial international investment and interaction.
We welcome the extension of the deadline for comment on this Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill to 31 July 2014. Our engagement and consultation with stakeholders have caused much concern and we will argue strongly in favour of wide public participation, especially because of the potentially negative impacts of this Bill.
Lastly, it is necessary for the Minister to consider ways of better co- operation between the three spheres of government. Too often the experience is that national government takes a top-down approach to governance. Taking away the Division of Revenue Act funding when municipalities and provincial administrations cannot spend the money hits our people - not the officials and political gatekeepers who are mainly responsible. Mobility determines the level of access to opportunity. If individuals don't have the freedom of movement, they cannot take advantage of these opportunities. The Department of Transport needs to get its act together so that we can create the environment that is necessary to grow the economy and create jobs. I thank you. [Applause.]