Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has provided an update on his department’s priorities for the rest of 2019.
In a media briefing on Wednesday (24 July), Mbalula said that this would include finality around the issue of e-tolls as well as the re-introduction of key legislation.
“We remain seized with the matter of the funding of the first phase of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project and the matter of the e-tolls,” he said.
“We are confident that we will meet the end of August deadline to place on the table a viable option on how to resolve the challenges facing us insofar as e-tolls are concerned.”
Mbalula added that his department was ‘mindful of the demand to resolve e-tolls’ and was, therefore, looking at solutions that will ‘balance the need for the country to honour its obligations to pay the debt that continues to increase each year and the calls to reduce the burden on road users’.
Other issues that he said his department is currently working on include:
The Road Accident Fund
Mbalula said that the restructuring and turnaround of the Road Accident Fund is a key priority for his department.
“We will be re-introducing the Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill to Parliament to expedite this process, among other interventions,” he said.
Previous iterations of the bill have faced controversy – particularly the ‘no fault’ clause and how the scheme will be funded.
According to the DA, the ‘no fault’ system would also apply to drunk drivers in South Africa.
“The RABS Bill proposes that anyone claiming from RABS (which would replace the current Road Accident Fund) would not require to prove if a vehicle crash was caused by any party involved in that crash. This means that even if an accident was caused by a person, that person will still be able to claim from the proposed RABS,” said the party’s Manny de Freitas.
Legal experts have also warned that the RABS’ implementation will see fuel levies rising by an estimated 75% and reduced compensation being provided to road accident victims and their dependents.
24/7 traffic police
“The implementation of a 24/7-day shift structure within the traffic law enforcement fraternity is a key priority that is receiving urgent attention,” said Mbalula.
In May 2018, former Transport minister Blade Nzimande mooted the idea of making traffic officers an ‘essential service’ which would ensure their constant availability on the country’s roads.
A high-speed train between Joburg and Durban?
Mbalula said that his department was working on a number of rail initiatives including the implementation of the 130km Moloto Rail Corridor between Siyabuswa in Mpumalanga and Tshwane in Gauteng.
“We will similarly continue with the work to conduct the feasibility study on the high-speed rail between Johannesburg and Durban,” he said.
“Both these projects are part of a suite of projects identified in the National Transport Master Plan 2050 that was approved by cabinet, and will be undertaken as Public Private Partnerships, with funding mobilised from the private sector through a number of instruments.”
He added that his department will roll-out Integrated Public Transport Networks – also known as BRT – across five additional cities including Mbombela, eThekwini, Rustenburg, Polokwane and Mangaung, over the next nine months.