19 June 2008

South Africa: National, Local Transport Policy to Be Co-Ordinated

Cape Town — The transport department is spearheading a strategy to consolidate and streamline transport planning and regulation across all three spheres of government.

These spheres have at times been at odds with each other.

The strategy is expressed in the draft National Land Transport Bill. The chairman of Parliament's transport committee, Jeremy Cronin, said yesterday the committee, in dealing with the bill, would take account of the review under way into the constitutionally enshrined concurrent powers of the different spheres of government.

Cronin said the review, by the provincial and local government department, had already flagged transport as one of the functions that might have to be redefined because of the confusion over competencies.

The bill, he said, tried to integrate planning, implementation and regulation of public passenger transport.

It will replace the National Land Transport Transition Act of 2000, which was transitional in that it did not deal with issues such as funding, operating licences and the registration of minibus taxi associations and operators.

The new bill takes account of the new public transport strategy adopted by the cabinet last year and is meant to ensure that functions executed by institutions in all spheres of government will be combined and rationalised where possible.

Instead of having a confusing set of disparate provincial laws, there would be one uniform national act, which would prescribe policies, principles, norms and standards that would apply to all provinces.

"The legislation should promote uniformity and avoid a plethora of diverse provincial and local laws," the memorandum to the bill noted.

Provinces will be responsible for provincial policy and strategy and co-ordination of municipalities, which will be responsible for municipal transport functions and planning.

The bill will empower the minister to issue directives to provinces and municipalities that failed to comply with their obligations under the act.

The transport department's deputy director-general for integrated planning, Martin Mokonyama, told the committee yesterday the bill would create a national public transport regulator, provincial regulators, and designated planning authorities to grant permits and issue service contracts.

Cronin said the bill would be subject to extensive consultation and public hearings , probably in August.

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