10 July 2014

South Africa: Committee Welcomes Improvements in Maritime Transport

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The Select Committee on Economic and Business Development has welcomed the revitalisation of maritime transport.

Briefing the Committee yesterday, Transport Deputy Minister Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga said the disinvestment in the maritime transport was not the mistake of the present government but that of the previous government.

"When you see the budget it talks to the priority of what happened in the past, the budget is trying to correct what was wrongly done," said Ms Chikunga. The Committee Chairperson Mr Litho Suka said the country was starting afresh. "We have no (cargo) ships because they were sold on the eve of our democracy." Another Committee member, Mr Fana Mokoena, said he was happy to hear emphasis being made on maritime transportation as this indicated a move towards maritime economy.

Acting Director-General Mr Mawethu Vilana briefed the Committee on the department's strategic plan, budget vote and annual performance plan. Mr Vilana said the National Development Plan vision in relation to transport stated that the country was to invest in a strong network of economic infrastructure designed to support economic and social objectives.

Mr Mntomuhle Khawula, another Committee member, touched on the oversight and regulatory role the department played in ensuring that funds transferred to municipalities were effectively utilised.

"There is money that comes from national government, the Municipal Infrastructure Grant to the municipalities. Most of this money is usually used for road construction in a very shady manner," said Mr Khawula.

Members of the Committee also expressed concerns about the administration of learner transportation, especially in rural areas. They asked if the learner transport could not be moved away from the Department of Public Works and fall under the Education Department as this would render efficient services to the people.

The Committee recommended to the department that the Shova Kalula initiative should have an element of security attached to it. The Shova Kalula is a government-sponsored initiative which provides bicycles at a lower cost to rural and peri-urban beneficiaries who walk longe distances to access their educational resource centres.

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