Nzimande vows to take on corruption at DoT, entities

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Department of Transport, throughout its entities, will take urgent measures to deal firmly with crime, corruption and State capture. 

“The basic principle from which we will proceed from now onwards is that we will run an administration determined to fight all forms of crime and corruption,” Transport Minister Blade Nzimande said on Friday.

Briefing the media ahead of his Budget Vote for 2018 in Cape Town, Nzimande said through the RTMC Anti-Corruption Unit and the HAWKS, the department will continuously monitor driver licence testing centres.

The target there will be specifically the illegal issuance of learners and drivers licences and roadworthy certificates to unqualified drivers and vehicles that were not subjected to any examination.

These have been identified as one of the contributors to the high carnage on South African roads.

Through the forensic investigation team, Nzimande said the department will also be relentlessly pursuing fraudsters and those stealing from the Road Accident Fund (RAF).

“Amongst others, the team will deal with fraud detection, deterrence and prevention.”

As at 31 March 2018, the RAF repudiated a total of R1 450 496 207 claims due to fraud.

This resulted in 105 convictions from 10 arrests.

Departmental spend

The department’s expenditure over the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) period will be driven mainly by transfers to the South African National Roads Agency, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, provinces and municipalities for the construction, operations and maintenance of transport services and infrastructure.

The total expenditure is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 6.3% over the medium term, from R57.9 billion in 2017/18 to R69.6 billion in 2020/21, with transfers accounting for 98%.

As a result, spending on items related to goods and services is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 6.3% -- from R663.8 million in 2017/18 to R798 million in 2020/21.

Spending on the compensation of employees is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 10.1 %, from R430.5 million in 2017/18 to R574.8 million in 2020/21. The department is going to implement the outcomes of job re-evaluation by upgrading salary levels 9 to 10, and levels 11 to 12. It will also fill critical posts.

Spending on infrastructure

Over next year, Minister Nzimande said the R29.1 billion in the Road Transport Programme will be provided for capital-related investment on non-toll roads. This includes R4.3 billion for the upgrade of the 160km stretch of Moloto road, which runs through Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. The road has become synonymous with crashes, bus accidents, injuries and death.

About R1.7 billion, will be spent to compensate for the reduced tariffs for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme, and R18.2 billion for general road strengthening and maintenance.

In addition, R2.1 billion will be provided in 2019/20 and 2020/21 for the construction of the N2 Wild Coast highway.

The provincial roads maintenance grant, which is funded through the Road Transport Programme, provides for funding to provinces based on road conditions, weather patterns and traffic volumes.  Allocations to the grant are expected to increase over the MTEF period, from R10.8 billion in 2017/18 to R12.1 billion in 2020/21.

“Included in the grant’s allocation is an amount of R1 billion over 2018/19 and 2019/20 for the rehabilitation and maintenance of coal haulage roads in Mpumalanga.  The total funding to the grant over the medium term will provide for 5 085 kilometres of rehabilitated surfaced roads and 13 935 lane kilometres resealed between 2018/19 and 2020/21,” Nzimande said.

Turning to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), which accounts for 32% of the department’s total expenditure, the Minister said the agency will focus on modernising South Africa’s passenger rail network.

“Over the MTEF period, the agency’s spending is expected to be mainly on maintaining existing assets while intensifying investment efforts to modernise the passenger rail sector,” he said, cautioning against underspending at PRASA.

The passenger rail agency projects that by 2020/21, it will be subsidising 392 million annual passenger trips on Metrorail and 1.5 million passengers on the long-distance mainline passenger service.

As part of the modernisation programme, over the medium term, the agency plans to provide 125 new trains for Metrorail, signalling upgrades amounting to R6.4 billion, and various upgrades to depots and stations.

The agency plans to spend a minimum of R1.2 billion over the medium term on rail maintenance operations and inventories to ensure that current and new rolling stock is fully functional and that trains are on time, reliable and safe. -