Hostile construction environment to persist until infrastructure spend recovers

Hostile construction environment to persist until infrastructure spend recovers

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PRETENSE OF GROWTH While there are several small-scale once-off construction projects, state-sanctioned, large-scale infrastructure projects, the lifeblood of the civil engineering and construction sector, have declined

ROAD TO NOWHERE On average around R300-billion is spent on infrastructure each year, but the dearth of projects suggests that the money is not used in the best possible manner

CRAIG LEMBOE

CHRIS CAMPBELL & NERESH PATHER

15th February 2019

By: Nadine James
Creamer Media Writer

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Construction is a depressing place to be at the moment, says Hogan Lovells partner and construction head Clive Rumsey, citing the lack of large infrastructure projects, resulting from lacklustre economic growth and a backlog in tender adjudication as some of the reasons the sector is struggling financially.

“Of the major players in the construction sector, divisions of Basil Read and the Liviero Group have already gone into business rescue, Group Five is sitting at around 70c a share . . . Aveng around 5c a share,” he comments.

Employees in the professional services space have also fallen on difficult times, says Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) president Neresh Pather.

The First National Bank Bureau for Economic Research’s (BER’s) Civil Construction Index has been below 20 since the third quarter of 2017, adds BER senior economist Craig Lemboe.

“This means that the overwhelming majority of civil contractors, especially the bigger firms, are pessimistic about the state of affairs within the sector. Additionally, the last time confidence was this low was between 1998 and 2000.”

FUNDING, FUNDING EVERYWHERE, BUT . . .
In 2009, the Competition Commission initiated investigations regarding allegations of collusion in the construction of the 2010 soccer World Cup stadiums. Based on its findings in 2011, seven construction companies were fined a collective R1.5-billion.

The companies entered into a settlement agreement with government, which led to the establishment of a trust – administrated by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) – called the Tirisano Construction Fund.

Rumsey says the idea was that funding would be allocated to promote transformation of the sector while developing a midtier industry, but Pather says the intent was to create a stronger sector by investing in skills and enterprise development.

When asked in 2017 by Democratic Alliance parliamentarian Dr Michael Cardo which projects had been earmarked by the Tirisano Fund for the 2017/18 financial year and which black-owned construction companies were expected to benefit, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel explained in a written reply that the trust was still being established. Moreover, once set up, the allocation of funding would be transparent.

Rumsey, unable to point to a Tirisano project, questions whether this means that the process is not as transparent as proclaimed or if the project has not been approved in the eight years since the commission’s ruling.

The latter proved true in the 2018 Budget Vote speech, when Patel told Parliament that R240-million had been raised for the fund, which would “begin its first project approvals” in 2018.

However, a call for applications on the IDC website suggests that the first projects, part of the Social Infrastructure Programme, will only be approved later this year, as the deadline for applications closed last month.

Moreover, “most of these construction companies are scaling down and trying to avoid liquidation . . . we cannot see where these funds will come from in future”, notes CESA CEO Chris Campbell. Rumsey adds that, to his knowledge, there is no mechanism to recoup funding from the aforementioned companies should they be liquidated.

Meanwhile, government and the European Union have jointly developed the Infrastructure Investment Programme for South Africa (IIPSA), valued at €100-million.

The IIPSA is meant to support the implementation of government’s infrastructure programme and address the constraints to infrastructure development in South Africa and the Southern African Development Community.

The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) was appointed secretariat and fund manager.

Rumsey says that, in his view, the IIPSA was meant to assist in the implementation of large-scale, local and cross-border projects.

The IIPSA is a proposal-based system, adds Lemboe. “According to the DBSA’s website, funding has only been allocated to five projects so far . . . I think the lack of activity lies in accessing the funds and the regulations regarding who qualifies, against which criteria.”

In his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) in Parliament, in October, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni stated that public infrastructure expenditure is estimated to be R855.2-billion over the next three years, with R485-billion allocated to conditional infrastructure grants.

A month earlier, President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced the establishment of a R400-billion South African Infrastructure Fund as part of his economic stimulus package.

Despite prevailing confusion over whether this R400-billion fund is additional to the R485-billion already allocated in the medium-term expenditure framework, Pather, Rumsey and Lemboe believe they are one and the same.

“The MTBPS, which occurred after the announcement of the infrastructure fund, upped its amount to just under R480-billion. So, it is my opinion that the infrastructure fund will largely consist of already allocated funds,” notes Lemboe.

He comments that, given the President’s announcement of the establishment of an Infrastructure Executive Team in The Presidency – which will “assist with project design and implementation” – it is difficult to say what the involvement of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Committee (PICC) will be.

The PICC, established under former President Jacob Zuma, has a similar mandate.

Pather believes that the PICC was never constituted correctly, as it should have been independent of government departments, and of State entities, and managed by skilled infrastructure professionals. He hopes Ramaphosa allows organisations like CESA to advise on the structure and mandate of the new Presidential panel.

Pather notes that, for infrastructure funds in general, “making the money available is one thing, but making the money available and having the right people manage the infrastructure delivery process is what’s vital”.

He adds that, on average about R300-billion is spent on infrastructure each year. “It’s not about spending more money, because there isn’t any more to spend . . . it’s about spending money correctly, and the only way you can do that is to employ the right people.”

Rumsey adds that having multiple funds available, and given the need for projects, the fact that there has been little to no measureable results is unconscionable. “The money must be used to create a steady pipeline of projects, keeping the sector ticking over, providing jobs, and growing the economy.”

Only 31 infrastructure-related public–private partnerships (PPPs) have been completed since 1998, despite government calling for more private-sector involvement in infrastructure development.

Rumsey cites the National Treasury’s 2017 Budget Review, which stated that, in 2017, PPPs accounted for 1.7%, or about R16-billion, of the total planned public-sector infrastructure spend for the next three years.

Pather states: “One cannot simply look at the number of PPPs undertaken, because, often, PPPs are selected that are inappropriate. The primary issue is that the selection of PPPs needs to be vetted.”

He notes that there are two types of infrastructure: commercial and social; the latter typically falls to government because, while it is necessary for societal wellbeing, there is, typically, no return on investment.

Pather states that problems arise when the State asks profit-based companies to take on enormous amounts of risk on a project that may never generate monetary value.

Campbell adds that success also hinges on good relations between the public and private sectors – these have been strained by “wrongdoings” on both sides, which have created mistrust.

Ideology is also an issue. “You have to bear in mind that much of government’s economic policies tend toward socialism. PPPs involve privatising public infrastructure, albeit for a fixed term, which means that, initially, private companies operate these facilities.”

Campbell notes that private companies, when running these facilities, focus on maximising profits, even if it means cutting staff. Government entities typically prioritise employment over efficiency and profitability, because of its economic policies.

Lemboe believes that, to some degree, the need for PPPs has diminished. “Infrastructure investment grew at an average of 2.1% – in real terms – between 2011 and 2017 – higher than overall gross domestic product growth over the same period. Relatively speaking, therefore, infrastructure spending from public-sector coffers was robust, possibly adding to the lower incidence of or the need for PPPs.”

He notes, however, that, theoretically, infrastructure investment could have improved more dramatically over the period had there been more PPPs, but this would have depended on the State’s capacity to effectively manage its end, and is thus debatable.

He believes that, given the state of public finances, more PPPs will be needed in future.

The dominant PPP model in South Africa – and therefore the most successful – is one where the private sector designs and builds the infrastructure and then manages it for a fixed period. “In return, they are remunerated either directly from the Budget or indirectly through earmarked taxes or levies,” Lemboe says.

WAY FORWARD
Pather states that a programme of investment into new projects for implementation must be embarked upon immediately.

“CESA believes an infrastructure advisory committee needs to be established to manage this roll-out and ensure that balanced delivery and development of the sector is achieved.”

Lemboe says that, given fiscal constraints, there is little that the State can do directly with regard to its infrastructure spending, barring addressing underspending by local municipalities.

“However, the State could support the sector by ensuring a policy environment conducive to greater private-sector involvement.

“[Also], a framework allowing private capital to be used for public infrastructure would be useful. Corporate South Africa has a substantial amount of savings which could be used – not in a prescribed way – for infrastructure.”

Rumsey states that government needs to plan ahead. “It needs to figure out what infrastructure is desperately needed over the next three years, find a way to budget for that, ringfence that money and then expedite the tender and procurement processes in a manner that is legal and practical.”

Campbell cautions that, without investment in the short term, the sector will be irrevocably crippled, while Lemboe advises that, in the absence of new infrastructure investment, companies will have to make tough decisions in order to remain competitive or face closure.

OR Tambo Western Precinct construction to start before end-Feb

OR Tambo Western Precinct construction to start before end-Feb

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12th February 2019

By: Marleny Arnoldi
Creamer Media Online Writer

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Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) on Tuesday announced the first phase of its Western Precinct development at the OR Tambo International Airport, east of Johannesburg, would start this month and would be complete by the end of 2020.

The R4.5-billion mixed-use Phase 1 development would comprise three six-storey buildings, including the head offices of ACSA and the South African Civil Aviation Authority, retail space, a hotel, conference facilities, logistics services and five levels of parking.

ACSA on Tuesday hosted a sod-turning ceremony on the 8.5 ha, 180 000 m2 development site.

The Western Precinct’s Phase 1 construction should see 1 100 people employed on site and at project peak.

The Western Precinct development will consist of a total seven phases.

OR Tambo GM Bongiwe Pityi-Vokwana said as the busiest airport in Africa and the international gateway to South Africa, it was imperative that OR Tambo remained an international landmark with world-class infrastructure and a large variety of services for all users and markets.

“The Western Precinct development forms part of a strategy to expand our offering and to drive new sources of growth for the entire region.”

The development would also improve the connectivity from the Gautrain station and to existing hotels and facilities through a pedestrian bridge to the international terminals building.

Pityi-Vokwana added that, in addition to the Western Precinct development, OR Tambo’s long-term Infrastructure Master Plan would cater for midfield cargo and midfield passenger terminals, each requiring several billion rands in further investment.

“These developments will accommodate growing passenger demand and expand the midfield cargo facilities at the airport to accommodate up to two-million tons of air cargo annually.”

The Western Precinct construction, and other developments such as terminal building upgrades and expansion of midfield cargo facilities at the airport in due course, should see 38 000 jobs supported over the next few years.

The members of the Western Precinct 62%-black-owned consortium are HERI Propco, as the developer, MMQSMace Consultancy, and Tiber Construction, as the building contractor.

 

Sanral, Nafbi sign MoU to develop small contractors, accelerate BEE implementation

Sanral, Nafbi sign MoU to develop small contractors, accelerate BEE implementation

14th February 2019

By: Simone Liedtke
Writer

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State-owned South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and nongovernmental organisation, the National African Federated Building Industry (Nafbi), on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed at developing small contractors within the South African construction industry.

Through this agreement, which will be in place for a period of five years, Sanral and Nafbi seek to break down monopolies in the industry, while also tackling issues such as unemployment, poverty and inequality.

The agreement has the option to renew after five years, if both parties agree.

According to Sanral transformation manager Ismail Essa, the two parties entered into the agreement on matters of mutual interest in order to best serve their strategic, transformation and empowerment interests by exploring options and solutions to maximise the participation of small contractors involved in Sanral projects.

With regards to Sanral’s transformation policy, CEO Skhumbuzo Macozoma on Thursday told delegates attending the signing ceremony that, especially with 2018 having seen several construction businesses being liquidated, new entrants and small contractors need to be mindful of the challenges in the industry.

Here, he noted that all construction industry players need to not just manage expectations in terms of delivery and costs, but that players will need to “learn how to work together and pool all resources” to ensure the industry’s sustainability and success.

Macozoma also called for the “critical re-evaluation” of the industry’s overall transformation policy and said only one singular policy needs to be implemented across the sector, stating that this would ensure a “mobilisation in the industry to build the capacity to enable service and product delivery”.

The MoU is one of several recently signed by the roads agency to “level the playing fields” in the industry.

As part of the agreement, Sanral will host information sessions intermittently for capacity building and information sharing. Nafbi will, through these sessions, also provide mentoring in the areas of technical competence, financial and human resources activities, as well as contractual and legislative matters.

The mentorship will be rolled out nationally, Nafbi president Aubrey Tshalata told attendees, adding that mentors “will be drawn from years of experience in road construction and maintenance, [as well as] technical and financial competence”.

He dubbed the MoU as a “gamechanger for the industry”, adding that the partnership with Sanral was key to not just promoting the increased implementation of black economic empowerment (BEE), but in preparing Nafbi members to participate in Sanral projects.

According to Tshalata, the MoU will bring about local economic growth, improve project quality and skills, as well as accelerate BEE.

“We want to develop real sustainable contractors who are able to compete and perform,” he said

 

The future of e-tolls is a political decision, says Sanral’s Kannemeyer

The future of e-tolls is a political decision, says Sanral’s Kannemeyer

14th February 2019

By: Irma Venter
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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The decision on the future of electronic tolling (e-tolls) in Gauteng is a political one, says South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) engineering executive Louw Kannemeyer.

Speaking at the Transport Forum, held in Johannesburg on Thursday, he told Engineering News Online that opposing messages from politicians on the future of e-tolls had created uncertainty with the public on whether they should pay their e-toll bills.

“People now say Sanral is from the devil,” he noted. “But that does not solve our funding problem.”

Kannemeyer said the existence and future of e-tolls was a “political conversation that should be solved politically”.

He noted that Cabinet approved e-tolls in 2007, as part of the preparations and requirements for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.

As National Treasury had no money to built the proposed freeway expansion project in Gauteng, it was decided that the roads would be funded through e-tolling.

“Cabinet will have to sit down and make a decision on the future of e-tolls. [Sanral] has done everything [government] has asked. We were asked for various scenarios and we have provided that. In time, there will have to be a decision. When this will be has not been communicated to us.”

Around 30% of users on Gauteng’s freeways are currently paying their e-toll bills

Aveng Strabag JV terminates Mtentu contract, citing protests; Sanral unconvinced

Aveng Strabag JV terminates Mtentu contract, citing protests; Sanral unconvinced

5th February 2019

By: Irma Venter
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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The Aveng Strabag joint venture (ASJV) has decided to terminate the Mtentu bridge contract, in the Eastern Cape.

The 1.1 km, R1.65-billion bridge forms part of the South African National Roads Agency Limited’s (Sanral’s) N2 Wild Coast road project.

Should it be completed, it will be one of the longest main-span balanced cantilever bridges in the world, reaching heights of around 220 m.

ASJV says it has been unable to work at the project site since October 22, owing to continuing community unrest and protest action, related to community demands on Sanral.

Sanral believes its engagement process with the community has reached a stage where work can continue safely.  ASJV does not, however, share Sanral’s view.

“The ability to execute works safely and in accordance with international best practice is ASJV’s primary concern,” says Aveng in a statement.

“Aveng and Strabag, on the strength of their combined local and international experience and track-record in complex bridge projects, have come to the reasoned conclusion that the ASJV cannot resume the execution of the works given the risk to the safety and wellbeing of its personnel and has, therefore, elected to terminate the Mtentu contract following consultation with external legal advice.”

Aveng says ASJV has provided two bonds – contract securities – to Sanral in connection with the Mtentu contract.

These are a R245.1-million performance guarantee in favour of Sanral, as well as an R81.7-million retention money guarantee, also in favour of Sanral.

“In terms of the Mtentu contract, although the contract securities are typically described as ‘on-demand’ bonds, Sanral’s rights to make a call against the contract securities are strictly regulated and limited in terms of the Mtentu contract itself,” notes Aveng.

“ASJV is taking steps to protect the position of Aveng and Strabag in this regard.”

The termination will take effect on Wednesday.

Sanral Rejects JV’s Reasoning
Sanral “strongly rejects” the JV’s assertion that the Mtentu Bridge site presented unsafe working conditions.

“[Sanral] has, as of today [Tuesday], issued a notice of termination to the contractor for abandoning the site,” says the agency in a statement.

“The South African government, both at national and provincial level, has done all that was necessary to ensure that it was safe for the contractor to return to site.

“Sanral has been engaging with the contractor to return to site to resume work since the beginning of 2019.

“The contractor is not being transparent about its true reasons for abandoning site, but Sanral suspects that the publicly known financial challenges of Aveng may have contributed to the decision.”

Aveng is in the process of disposing of its loss-making construction business – Grinaker-LTA – which was tasked with building the Mtentu bridge.

Sanral says it will do “everything in its power to protect its interests”, adding that it will engage National Treasury to determine the quickest way to resume construction of the bridge.

The agency adds that it will also investigate the conduct of the contractor based on allegations made by the community.

Community Dissatisfied
The Mtentu bridge contract uproar forms part of a broader picture of community dissatisfaction with the scope and route of the proposed N2 Wild Coast road project.

Wild Coast community body, Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC), says in a statement that the greenfield section of the proposed N2 toll road project is routed through an “area of critical biodiversity, including fertile farmland and estuaries upon which local people depend for their livelihoods. It is a landscape of rolling grasslands, indigenous forests and spectacular gorges that support a colony of the endangered Cape Vulture. Alternative routes for the proposed N2 would not have the same devastating impacts on the environment and cultural landscape”.

SWC indicates that the community has, since 2001, begged the then Sanral CEO Nazir Ali to build a road that would benefit local communities and not just the trucking industry.

“The proposed N2 toll road has never been in the best interests of the Mpondo communities of the Eastern Cape”.

SWC notes that Sanral should withdraw from the N2 project and “consider more carefully what role government should play in enabling sustainable development that will most benefit Eastern Cape citizens”.

“Any negative economic fallout of [the] withdrawal from bridge construction must not be blamed on those who have been opposed to the Wild Coast toll road, but rather on the failure of government to engage meaningfully with the alternative routes proposed, and residents who will be most affected by toll road construction.”

Sanral indicated in January, however, that much of the protests around the Mtentu bridge have been about the allocation and scarcity of jobs on the project, rather than the proposed routing of the highway

MINISTER OF TRANSPORT DR BLADE NZIMANDE ON OCCASION OF THE RELEASE OF THE PRELIMINARY 2018 FESTIVE SEASON ROAD SAFETY STATEMENT

MINISTER OF TRANSPORT DR BLADE NZIMANDE ON OCCASION OF THE RELEASE OF THE PRELIMINARY 2018
FESTIVE SEASON ROAD SAFETY STATEMENT AT GCIS TSHEDIMOSETSO HOUSE PRETORIA.

16 January 2019

Deputy Minister Sindisiwe Lydia Chikunga

MECs

RTMC Board Chairman Mr. Zola Majavu

Members of RTMC Board and other Boards present

Acting Director General Mr. Chris Hlabisa

RTMC CEO Advocate Makhosini Msibi

CEO’s of other Transport Agencies

Chairperson of Youth in Road Safety and Transport, Mr Sam Masango

Head of Departments

Traffic Chiefs

Officials from the three spheres of government and entities

Members of the media

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Festive Season has offered us an opportunity to enjoy quality time with our loved ones and to reflect on the year “that was” and simultaneously to relax
and recharge in preparation for this year.

We all travelled the length and breadth of our beautiful country assured of our safe return, free from injury, death and or any pain or loss caused by fellow road
users.

However, our behaviour and conduct on the roads is inconsistent and incongruent to this sanctified “right of life” as enshrined in our Constitution. Our cherished priced motor vehicle have become killing machines on our roads, more especially during the Festive season.

It is unfortunate that some of our road users could not live to see their cherished dreams unfold, as their lives were unnecessarily cut short by irresponsible and
unpatriotic conduct of other road users.

On behalf of the Government of South Africa and in particular the transport family, we send our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of those that died on our roads and rail transportation and to those families that are still in mourning due to the senseless killings of their loved ones.

Those that are recuperating in hospitals and at home we wish them a speedy recovery.

We further recognise that we lost our own members in the line of duty during the festive season. May the souls of the late Joseph Mabuza, spokesperson for
Mpumalanga department of community safety, security and liaison, Gauteng traffic officer, Napoleon Segobela, and Constable Thembi Lunic Phadziri from the SAPS rest in eternal peace. Their deaths were not in vain. It was in service of the nation and in humanity.

We also like to thank the unflinching willingness by some South Africans who heeded our
clarion call and contributed towards road safety by obeying the rules of the road and we urge them to continue to be exceptions to the norm). We wish to applaud these patriotic compatriots for putting (the interest of the country first and at heart.

Ladies and gentlemen

We have come out of a very challenging and difficult six-week period in which our resources were stretched to the limit.

However, our resilience and combat readiness fortified our determination to steadfastly roll out our road safety programmes, focusing on road safety education, road infrastructure engineering, law enforcement and evaluation of the impact of our
intervention.

At midnight on Tuesday 08 January 2019, we marked the end of the Festive Season Road Safety campaign that had been carried
out by various provincial and municipal authorities since the of December 2018.

The festive season always place an added responsibility on traffic authorities who have the mammoth task of ensuring that road users comply with the rules of the road.

Although we undertake road safety as a 365-day business, we are always called upon to double-up our efforts when we approach the festive season. This is due to the obvious fact that there is remarkable increase in traffic volumes during this period.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) coordinates our national effort in partnership with the provincial and municipal traffic authorities, the South African Police Service, emergency medical services and the Department of Health.

They work collaboratively to reduce and where possible eliminate the risk of crashes on our roads.

Working under very trying circumstances at times, they also monitor the deployment of traffic personnel on the roads and collate statistics on crashes, fatalities
and law enforcement achievements.

Ladies and gentlemen I also must mention that our road safety initiative is modelled around achieving the
objectives of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. This is in response to the rapidly rising number of road related injuries and fatalities occurring in our country.

Let me restate what I said when we launched the 2018 Festive Season Road Safety Campaign at Modimolle in Limpopo:

“Road traffic fatalities are amongst the main causes of death in South Africa. This results in serious social and economic costs for the country. These
consequences include the loss of family members who are bread winners and leave behind traumatized families. The economic ramifications include the increase in the social development and health budgets spent”.

This is amongst the reason that as government we are seeking for new partnerships and initiatives across sectors to address what the United Nations General Assembly calls “a major public health issue”.

Our goal in implementing the National Road Safety Strategy is firstly to stabilize and then reduce road traffic fatalities. This Strategy is implemented through a plan that is organized around a United Nations (UN) five-pillar approach to improve road safety.

The five pillars are:

Road safety management;

Infrastructure;

Safe vehicles;

Road user behaviour, and

Post-crash response

The pillars which continuously require major attention are the road user behaviour and safe vehicles.

By their nature, these pillars are dependable on road users and vehicle owners.

In response to these, as government we are relentless in improving our road traffic laws, regulations and strategies.

We will also continue unabated in inculcating a culture of road safety awareness and taking responsibility by road users.

Government at all spheres will amongst others continue to partner with the Youth Formations, Interfaith Community, Road
Freight Associations and the Taxi Industry to spread the culture of responsible road use.

We will further seek partnerships with Associations of taverns, liquor authorities, NGOs and CBOs to mention a few.

The roads branch in the Department of Transport, will lead in the coordination of our partnerships and direct the relevant partners to our road entities and provinces.

Ladies and gentlemen

As we noted when we released the mid-season report on December 22, 2018, we remain concerned about the involvement of trucks and minibus vehicles in major
horrific road crashes.

An analysis of these shows a disturbing trend where drivers from our neighbouring countries were involved in some of the major of crashes in which five or more
people died.

These collisions took place in Bloemspruit Free State, White River in Mpumalanga, Tierpoort near Bloemfontein in Free State, Nsuze near Appelbosch in KwaZulu
Natal, Middelburg in Mpumalanga, Mookgophong in Limpopo, Clocolan in Free State and Tweespruit also in Free State. A total of 54 lives were lost in these crashes and the Free State province was the worst affected.

Evidence has also shown that drivers from our neighbouring countries were also involved in serious and flagrant violations of road traffic rules by excessively overloading their vehicles and driving un-roadworthy vehicles that pose a risk to other road users.

We will be engaging with their governments through the SADC Secretariat and other continental bodies with similar jurisdictions to ensure that we get their co-operation in dealing with the matter.

In addition, I have directed the RTMC conduct thorough investigation in each of the driving licence and testing centres (DLTCs) where South African nationals
involved in these major crashes obtained their licences.

The centres and the examiners involved in issuing those documents have already been identified. Some of the identified DLTCs include Newcastle, Bethlehem, Mbombela, Komatipoort, Springbok, Zeerust, Johannesburg, Umtata, Boksburg, Stanger and
Umhlabuyalingana.

We now need an understanding of how these centres operate to identify weakness in the system and address them. Consequences will follow if it can be established that process were flouted.

It is also important that we understand the context in which we undertook our festive season road safety campaign this year.

The World Health Organisation’s Global Status Report on Road Safety, which was released in December 2018, shows that deaths from road traffic crashes have
increased from 1.25 million to 1.35 million a year throughout the world.

The report notes that the world is far from meeting the goal of reducing the number deaths by 50% by the year 2020.

The report further states that 58% of road traffic deaths in South African involved alcohol and the seat-belt wearing rate is as low as 38% for drivers and 31% for
front seated passengers.

The Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety will be held in Sweden in April 2020 to set a new agenda and target for fatalities for the next target.

The official vehicle population has grown tremendously and this has translated to an added burden on our road infrastructure network and law enforcement
capacity.

In December 2017, we had at least 12 205 112 registered vehicles in the country. This had increased to 12 462 979 in December 2018, meaning
that there were 257 867 more vehicles this festive season.

Also of interest is that in 2017, the number of driver’s licenses issued were 12 658 135. This number has since
increased to 13 055 317 cumulatively, meaning that 397 182 new drivers were recently licensed to use our road networks.

While the overwhelming interest is understandably around the number of fatalities recorded over this period, it is also important to assess the genesis within
which these crashes occur, and get all of us to understand each road user’s responsibility.

It must be understood that the Department of Transport and its entities will always discharge their responsibility to disseminate messages and information about
road safety without prejudice.

We continue to review our policies and legislation that are aimed at improving safety on our roads through proper infrastructure, ensuring safer vehicles,
influence road user behaviour and ensuring proper post-crash response.

Road safety, primarily is an individual road user’s responsibility. Once this notion is lost on any road user: motorists, passengers and pedestrians alike, the
battle against road carnages will be undermined.

The carnages we continue to experience on our roads are instigated by a number of factors mostly embedded in human behaviour and vehicle factors as already
stated.

Some of these factors are as follows:

 

  • Alcohol and substance abuse;

 

  • Reckless and negligent driving;

 

  • Un-roadworthy vehicles;

 

  • Overtaking on blind-rises, barrier lines and
    in areas of poor visibility;

 

  • A total disregard for rules of the road,

 

  • Corruption;

 

  • Distracted driving – where drivers use
    cellphones while driving;

 

  • Lack of courtesy towards other road users;

 

  • Failure to use seatbelts (buckling up) and
    child restraints;

 

  • Overloading;

 

  • Fatigue caused by failure to rest at periodic
    intervals, and

 

  • Stray animals on our roads, particularly in
    rural areas.

 

One of the major disturbing elements emerging from the information gathered thus far is the vulnerability of passengers.

 

At least 36 percent of people dying from road-related incidents this year were passengers. This in an increase from 34 percent recorded last year and it
reflects the number of high occupancy vehicles, particularly minibus vehicle that were involved in fatal crashes.

 

Pedestrian fatalities have shown a two percent (2%) decrease from 37 percent last year to 35 percent this year while driver fatalities remained at 27 percent
and cyclist at two percent.

 

Pedestrian vulnerability manifests itself in the following ways:

 

  • Drinking and walking, including jaywalking;

 

  • Wrong and dangerous crossing of the road;

 

  • Informal settlements situated alongside busy
    roads and intersections;

 

  • Walking on and crossing of highways, and

 

  • Failure to wear visible clothing at night.

 

The preliminary figures for this past festive season indicate that we have managed to reduce crashes and fatalities from what it was at mid-point of the festive
period.

 

It will be remembered that at the mid-point of the season in December last year, we reported that crashes had increased by five
percent (5%)
and fatalities by 16 percent.

However, following intervention focusing on removing overloaded trailers from the roads through
“Operation Malayisha”, the increased law enforcement operations and the introduction of the 24/7 shift and the rollout of the Evidential Breath Alcohol Test (EBAT) to deal with drink driving, we managed to reduce crashes by two percent (2%) and seven percent (7%) for fatalities.

 

While this is not a cause for celebration, we however believe that the situation could have been worse had we not made the necessary interventions to contain
the situation.

 

Although we have not succeeded in achieving the goal of a 10% reduction in fatalities over this period, we shall not despair. We will continue to take incremental
steps until we reach our goal.

 

Former South African Communist Party leader, Joe Slovo, who life we are celebrating this month advised us to:

 

“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”

 

Ladies and gentlemen

 

According to preliminary figures, crashes recorded in the recent festive season total 1 286, regrettably and unfortunately resulting in 1 612 fatalities
nationwide.

 

The provincial breakdown is as follows:

 

Province Number of Crashes Number of Fatalities

 

Eastern Cape 195 238

 

Free -State 95 159

 

Gauteng 208 219

 

Kwazulu – Natal 267 328

 

Limpopo 138 178

 

Mpumalanga 123 162

 

Northern – Cape 42 54

 

North – West 93 125

 

Western – Cape 125 149

 

A comparison of this year’s statistics with the same period last year depicts that the Northern Cape, Free State and Eastern
Cape
recorded the highest percentage increases in fatalities.

 

This resulted in an 80 percent increase in Northern Cape from 30 to 54 fatalities. The Free State increased by 28
percent
moving from 124 fatalities in the previous year to 159 this year, while the Eastern Cape recorded a 22 percent increase moving from 195 fatalities to 238.

 

Gauteng and the North West are the only provinces that recorded percentage decreases in the number of fatalities.

 

Gauteng recorded a commendable 19 percent decrease while the North West recorded only a two percent decrease

 

We remain concerned about the incalcitrant attitude of our road users as the statistics show that human factors account for ninety percent (90%) of contributory factors to fatal crashes compared to vehicle factors that contributed four percent while road and environmental factors contributed six percent (6%).

 

Our relative success in preventing an overwhelming escalation in fatalities in this period can be attributed to interventions we undertook after the mid-season
review on December 22, 2018.

 

These included law enforcement blitzes that focused on overloaded trailers.

 

These vehicles were stopped and prevented from leaving their points of departure within South Africa and others were stopped at the border gates.

 

We also increased law enforcement patrols and visibility of on major routes such as the N1, N3 and N4.

 

As a result of these interventions, there was no major crash with multiple fatalities on the N1 between Bela-Bela and Polokwane and a total of 1021 un-roadworthy vehicles with overloaded trailers were discontinued.

 

Consequently:

  • There were 775 roadblocks conducted compared to 440 the previous year;
  • 1 358 619 vehicles were stopped and checked compared to 1 281 062 the previous year;
  • 765 009 notices were issued compared to 290 023 the previous year;
  • 4 016 vehicles were discontinued compared to 3 809 the previous year;
  • 2 967 vehicles were impounded compared to 2 808 the previous year;
  • 8 507 motorists were arrested compared to 6441 the previous year (2223 arrests were for drunk driving and 775 for speeding).

 

Our focused attention on corruption resulted in the arrest of 17 officials implicated in the fraudulent issuing of learner licences and roadworthy certificates.

 

The officials were arrested in Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and Limpopo.

 

In addition, four motorists were arrested in separate incidents in the Western Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga for trying to bribe traffic officials.

 

The collective and collaborative efforts of our stakeholders paid off remarkably, with the Faith Based Community who used their religious platforms to spread the
road safety message.

 

The Department of Transport and the Road Traffic Management Corporation will be meeting next month to discuss further urgent interventions that need to be
implemented to reduce the carnage on our roads.

 

These discussions will centre on key policy interventions that are required to strengthen traffic law enforcement throughout the country.

 

These interventions will include amongst others:

  • the implementation of the AARTO Act and the demerit point system;
  • the re-classification of all road traffic offences to Schedule 5 of the Criminal Procedure Act. This includes quest for a
    mandatory minimum sentence for ‘drunken driving, inconsiderate, reckless and negligent driving;
  • the engagements with the South African PoliceServices and the Justice Department on the conditions for the granting of bail
    particularly on motorist caught speeding;
  • the intensification of the National Traffic Anti-Corruption Unit sting operation in collaboration with the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) at Driver and Learner Testing centres, at vehicle testing centres and driving schools. This will be undertaken to establish their adherence to regulations and standards and to deal with instances of fraud and corruption; and
  • the roll out  of the road safety curriculum at basic education level is also underway, with the curriculum having been finalized.
  • the implementation plan for the introduction of the driving school instructor course. The South African Qualification Authority registered this groundbreaking qualification in December last year. The RTMC will work closely with driving schools to improve safety on the roads by ensuring the production of competent drivers.

 

We will also seek an urgent engagement with our counterparts from neighbouring countries to discuss how we can strengthen cross-border transportation of goods
and people.

 

On behalf of the Shareholders Committee comprising all Transport and Safety MECs from all the provinces, I thank all our law enforcement officers in all spheres
of government, the SAPS, Emergency Medical Services, our private sector partners and road safety activists and volunteers for their commitment and relentless campaigns.

Thank you also to the media who have partnered with us in spreading the word and encouraging responsible behaviour. Please continue working with us to help fight this scourge.

Most of all, I thank all road users who heeded the message of road safety and we urge all of them to continue to be road safety ambassadors.

To those who are still refusing to comply, your days are numbered. It is just a matter of time before we catch you and remove you from our roads for you are a danger
to yourselves and society at large.

 

Together we can make South African roads safer.

Ngiyabonga

Missed opportunity to build public understanding about road funding in SA

South African Road Federation (SARF)

Media Release

Missed opportunity to build public understanding about road funding in SA

13 December 2018: The controversy around e-tolls in Gauteng has diverted public attention away from the real issues of road funding and created a culture of non-compliance amongst drivers which in turn impacts directly on road safety.

Saied Solomons, President of the South African Road Federation (SARF), says, “Roads are public infrastructure, they are vital to the economy and have a direct impact on prosperity. Governments across the world obtain funds for roads through general taxation, road user levies and charges, including the fuel levy, and other taxes. South Africa is no exception. But we have missed an opportunity to build understanding about the role every stakeholder must play to ensure an efficient and sustainable income source for our roads.”

“As 2018 draws to a close, instead of a better-informed group of road users in Gauteng, we have motorists who have not only not paid their toll fees, but have also not paid their traffic fines. Most road accidents are preceded by a traffic offense so we have non-compliant road-users whose behaviours and attitudes are questionable and may go on to threaten road safety over the holiday season.”

Solomons was speaking at the Transport Forum held in Pretoria last week when transport stakeholders from business, government and academia gathered together to discuss South Africa’s road funding dilemma.

“E-tolls are just one means of collecting income from road users. The fuel levy is another. Those who are up in arms about e-tolls should rather consider lobbying for an alternative to the fuel levy. If any road tax is not fair or equitable it is the fuel levy. The poor pay the same rate of tax as the rich and those who can afford newer more fuel-efficient vehicles are paying less than poorer people driving older cars for the same distance travelled. The fuel levy is also not transparent – the rate per litre can be established but calculating trip cost is not easy. It cannot be used as a tool to manage congestion during peak periods and it does not consider road damage caused by the mass of the vehicle. With the expected increase in electric vehicles in the future, the fuel levy is also not sustainable.”

“Many people are paying more road use tax with the fuel levy than what their comparative fair share of road use demands. They are also paying in personal time due to congestion and increased vehicle operating costs.”

“Compared to international standards, the demands on our roads are too high versus the available funding for maintenance and expansion of the network,” he says.

“Around two-thirds of South Africa’s population now live in urban areas with the Gauteng population rapidly soaring beyond the 14 million mark according to Stats SA. The number of vehicles that people own has doubled since 1994 and nearly 40% of these vehicle owners live in Gauteng. Yet many people remain unaware of just how heavily they are paying through congestion on our roads,” says Solomons.

Solomons explains that South Africa needs a completely new approach to road funding based on paying per the mass of the vehicle and distance travelled. “This should involve a tariff setting mechanism that influences behaviour and that helps manage road capacity. Public sentiment will be far easier to manage if we have a road use charging system that is cost-effective, efficient, sustainable, equitable, transparent and well administered. After all, the user-pay principle is already part of our everyday lives – we pay for lights, water, parking, etc.”

“Charging for road use needs to be very clear so that all sectors of society including ordinary South Africans know that government’s investment and road infrastructure spending is in their interests.”

“In the next year the South African Road Federation will actively engage with relevant stakeholders to unpack the critical issues and benefits of a user-pay principle and what this will mean for all players.

“By participating in future Transport Forums, we want to stimulate a more objective public debate on road funding and set out the roles and responsibilities required to build, maintain and develop a road network that is safe, efficient and cost-effective for all users.”

ENDS

Issued by Alexandra van Essche on behalf of the South African Road Federation

Contact ave@worldonline.co.za or 082 321 1167

If we’re all such ace drivers, why are our roads so deadly?

If we’re all such ace drivers, why are our roads so deadly?

January 15, 2019

Publication source: Times Live

Most drivers rate their performance behind the wheel as excellent or better – but road accidents tell a different story.

“When something happens on our roads motorists always blame everyone except themselves,” said Automobile Association (AA) spokesperson Layton Beard, adding that a recent AA survey found 85% of drivers thought they were beyond reproach.

In the first two weeks of the festive season, 787 people died on the roads and more than 2,800 were arrested for speeding, drinking and driving, and other traffic offences. Updated casualty and accident figures are due to be released by the department of transport shortly.

Meanwhile the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) is rolling out hi-tech speed-enforcement camera technology on the busiest highways.

Sanral’s northern region spokesperson, Progress Hlahla, said that after the success of average-speed-over-distance (Asod) enforcement in the Western Cape, the agency was targeting the N1 between Pretoria and Zimbabwe.

“The equipment is being installed on sections of the highway where there have been horrific accidents. In September, a truck carrying cement crashed into four other vehicles, including a bus, killing 27 people.”

Hlahla said speed was a major concern and the technology, which calculates a vehicle’s average speed over a specific distance, would help to force motorists to obey the law.

Siphesihle Dube, Western Cape transport department spokesperson, said Asod systems in the province monitored a total distance of 450km on four major routes including the N2 and N1.

“On all of the stretches where Asod has been implemented, we have seen decreased speeds and fewer transgressions. We have also seen a decrease in speed-related crashes that were common before the implementation.”

He said that since the introduction of Asod in 2014, 9,044 speeding fines had been issued and 113 motorists had been arrested in the Western Cape.

Road Traffic Management Corp spokesperson Simon Zwane said an environment was needed in which road users knew there would be consequences if they broke the law.

“Loopholes in legislation are being closed to ensure that when people are caught, especially for drinking and driving, their prosecution is expedited and they are brought to court quickly. To address the current situation, the way we prepare drivers at driving schools, and how tests are done at testing centres, needs to be urgently looked at.”

Transport minister Blade Nzimande said last month there had been “unparalleled” agony on the roads. Speeding, negligence and drink-driving created “lethal problems”, with deaths increasing this holiday season in all provinces except Gauteng.

TOO RELAXED FOR A SEATBELT?