Vote 10 Budget Vote Speech
Speech by Bonginkosi Madikizela, Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works
29 March 2021
The following speech was tabled by Minister Bonginkosi Madikizela on the occasion of Vote 10, in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament today.
- Honourable Speaker/Deputy Speaker
- Honourable Premier and Cabinet Colleagues
- Honourable Leader of the Opposition
- Honourable Members of the WCPP
- Director-General and other officials of the WCG
It would be easy and understandable to devote a significant amount of the time of the House during this budget cycle to complaining about the difficult economic times we are in – difficult times made even more challenging by the wide-ranging demands of the pandemic. But, Speaker, these difficult circumstances are a given and are often beyond our control. How we respond as a government is not a given and is very much within our control, particularly if we keep cool heads and make responsible, consulted decisions based on the facts.
It was Warren Buffett, that most successful investor, who pointed out that in times of a flood, there are no prizes for predicting rain. Prizes go to those who build arks – arks which rescue people and enable society to move forward. My focus will today be on a few of these arks.
But first let us look at the key financial resources which we have been allocated.
The Budget Itself
The 2021/22 budget for the Department of Transport and Public Works totals R9.265 billion. This is an 8% increase on the adjusted budget for 2020/21. For 2022/23 the budget is scheduled to be reduced to R8.636 billion before being increased marginally for 2023/24 to R8.891 billion. The 2021/22 budget is made up of the following receipts:
- Equitable share – 44%
- Conditional Grants – 24%
- Departmental Receipts – 21%
- Financing - Asset Financing Reserve and the Provincial Revenue Fund – 11%
It is important to note that the small % increase over last year’s budget relates mainly to once-off allocations that do not contribute to the infrastructure maintenance capacity of the Department during a time when infrastructure is to play a key role in any economic recovery. This is aggravated by the failure over time of the budget to keep up with normal inflation, thereby further reducing funds available for infrastructure maintenance.
From a programme perspective, given the importance of maintaining and expanding a safe road network, it is not surprising that Programme 3 [Transport Infrastructure] is allocated 41% of the total budget. Programmes 4 and 5 [Transport Operations and Transport Regulation] contain allocations to ensure that we are able to build on recent technological advances aimed at expanding the reach of our Traffic Service and the capacity of the Integrated Transport Hub which has attracted great interest from national agencies as well as from the other provinces keen to draw on our ideas and experience.
Speaker, the American leadership guru, John Maxwell, is credited with saying that a budget tells your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. This, of course, illustrates a crucial difference between the way in which budgets are drawn up and managed in the Western Cape as opposed to other parts of South Africa where massive allocations are made for projects and services which do not materialise. On the basis that in the Western Cape money goes where this government plans it to go, I would like to focus briefly on a number of activities of this Department.
Infrastructure Spend and Jobs
Speaker, as part of the debate held in this House last Friday, I referred to the fact that in 2021/22 the top 18 projects in the roads space alone which my Department plans to put out on tender in the near future have an estimated value of R3 billion and an expected spend in the 2021/22 financial year of R819 million.
In this financial year my department is due to spend over R4 billion on infrastructure and, as the implementing agent for Education and Health, a further R2.9 billion. This is a massive contribution to the economy, to an industry under pressure and to the creation of work for our residents.
From an employment perspective, projects put out by my department in the current financial year created over 7500 jobs despite the fact that this period coincided with the most extreme form of lockdown and most projects had to be shut down for at least part of that time.
At my request, DTPW has also embarked on a process of identifying various partnership and financing models which can move us away from the conservative, traditional approach to the planning, packaging, procurement and financing of infrastructure projects. I hope to be able to report more fully on this development in the near future.
Public Transport Innovation
During the pandemic, many of the additional responsibilities assumed by various departments of the Western Cape government were entirely expected and in line with the steps which had to be taken to combat and limit the spread of the virus. So the massive task of sourcing and managing the provision of Isolation and Quarantine facilities was not entirely unexpected and was logically within the mandate of the Department of Transport and Public Works. Equally, fitting out government buildings with the required health protective material was an extension of existing mandates.
There were, however, also needs which arose from the lockdown and other actions which were less expected and which required for their resolution creative thinking and solutions. One of these was the impossible situation in which front line health staff found themselves when national curfew hours, duty rosters and the availability of public transport were not aligned. My department responded by developing and negotiating a system of public transport in conjunction with the Minibus Taxi industry through which the transport needs of medical staff could be co-ordinated with vehicle availability using appropriate technology. In this way the Red Dot Lite service was conceived and implemented; building on the Red Dot service which was implemented to transport people to and from Quarantine and Isolation facilities.
As a result, thousands of front line health care workers were able to manage their crucial duties in safety and within an hygienic travel environment.
When similar needs arose to transfer patients from one facility to another it was possible to adapt the Red Dot Lite service into what became known as the Red Dot Like service.
The successful organisation and implementation of these three services required the development of a new basis of interaction with the Minibus Taxi industry. For this purpose the industry was assisted to establish Umanyano Travel Services company involving 8 regional taxi councils. A whole new way of interacting with the taxi industry has been established with significant benefits for the industry, the commuters and the Province.
An indication of the success of this initiative is the number of trips undertaken and the number of passengers conveyed in safety during very difficult times.
In the third quarter of 2020/21 over 24,500 trips were undertaken, transporting both healthcare workers to and from select hospitals and COVID-19 positive patients (or those at risk of infection) to and from Quarantine or Isolation facilities. To complete these trips, over 1.95 million operating kms were travelled and more than 111,000 passengers were transported during the period.
Speaker, the success of this innovative system made a significant contribution to the Province’s capacity to deal overall with the pandemic at a time when so many vital systems were under real pressure.
But, this success story does not end there.
The many innovative ideas rolled out during jointly by my department and the taxi industry while implementing the Red Dot system have presented all parties with an ideal opportunity to reconceptualise how the minibus taxi can continue to provide its extensive service to our commuters but in a safer, more reliable way.
- The Blue Dot Taxi pilot project is a ground-breaking initiative which aims to:
- Improve the service quality and safety of participating minibus taxis, including a better passenger experience;
- Achieve fundamental transformation and empowerment of the industry;
- Address two of the most challenging issues plaguing the industry, namely illegal operations, and violent conflict;
- Fundamentally shift the industry’s existing economic drivers which incentivise fare chasing, competition, recruitment of illegal operators and route contestation.
In order to achieve this goal we have developed the necessary technology to allow the industry to shift this cut-throat, competitive basis to one in which reliability, improved safety standards and better driving are monitored and incentivised.
Speaker, changes of this nature in an entrenched, important industry do not happen overnight. The new system – Blue Dot, named after its distinguishing branding – has required days of intensive negotiation, a deep knowledge of the industry and a willingness to give and take in the interests of all parties – particularly the commuters themselves.
I want to thank my officials and the leadership of the industry for their hard work and commitment to opening the door to a new way of doing an important part of the business of public transport.
Members will have noticed an amount of R150 million in the allocation for Vote 10 to the planned pilot which will run until November of this year.
Where are we in this process?
- A successful soft launch was held on 4 March which involved all parties
- 8 regional companies have been established and signed up
- The in person sign up of 1300 operators has commenced
- Driver and operator training programmes have been finalised
- Vehicle fit outs including trackers and hygiene provisions are ready and the purpose designed and built technology system is in place
- Funding, contracting and payment mechanisms are in place and confirmed
- The public communication campaign is ready to go live.
Speaker, given the on-going unacceptable level of service provided to our commuters by PRASA, the Blue Dot system is a massive step forward in the provision of reliable, safe, affordable public transport.
I thank you