The Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, has outlined a number of initiatives which are currently being worked on by his department. This includes providing a final answer on the e-toll issue in Gauteng, and scrapping 63,000 taxis. The Department of Transport is also pushing a “road to rail” shift .
“In giving traction to the road to rail shift, we are putting in place long-term interventions that will introduce rail-reform, thereby making rail more effective, efficient, and competitive both in respect of freight and passenger transport.”
This will include a rail policy and legislation which will support and facilitate investment in rail infrastructure, rail modernisation and rail technology, safety and economic regulation, and the facilitation of the participation of the private sector in rail.
“In the short to medium term, we will review and extend the dangerous goods list that identifies goods that should not be on road, for safety reasons. Similarly, high cubed heavy trucks will no longer get exemptions to be on the road, considering the impact and the damage they do to our roads.”
The E-tolls Debacle
The minister also stated that the department was working towards a final answer on E-tolls.
“We are equally enjoined to finalise the funding and tariff structure on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) by the end of this financial year,” he said.
Since its inception in 2013, E-tolls have met with resistance from road users, leading to non-payment by many, and calls to scrap the system altogether. Mbalula in October 2020 said that his department was being impeded from rolling out new road infrastructure projects because of a lack of resolution around e-tolls. Mbalula said that Ramaphosa’s cabinet will finalise a new funding model for the project after receiving proposals from the department of transport.
Taxis and buses
Minister Mbalula said his department is working on the implementation of a ‘re-imagined’ taxi recapitalisation programme which will include increased local content of the vehicles. This is in line with the South African automotive industry master plan which seeks to increase local content to 60%.
“It is through this re-imagined TRP programme that we will deliver the targets of scrapping 63,000 taxis by 2024 and implement a new public transport funding model that includes the taxi industry from the next financial year.”
“The expansion of the integrated public transport networks in 10 cities will be expedited within the context of the revised technical norms and standards for the bus rapid transit (BRT) system.
“National Treasury and the Department of Transport, through the Cities Support Programme, is working closely with cities to improve implementation capacity.”
New rules are also likely to be introduced for South African Drivers. Specifically the prohibition on the use and consumption of alcohol by all motor vehicle operators. The alcohol concentration in any blood sample must be 0.00 gram per 100 millilitres.
“When you drive your car and get in your vehicle you will need to be 100% sober.”
The government will roll out the new driving demerit system in 2021. This is aimed at punishing repeat offenders according to Mbalula.
“(Under this system) when you commit a number of offences you risk losing your driving licence. It happens in Europe and everywhere else.
“This is the year in which we are tightening the screws on offenders and those on the other side of the law. This is the year which we will see this in action.”
The system is planned to be implemented in June 2021.