State of the Province Address (SOPA) Debate Speech
Speech by Bonginkosi Madikizela, Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works
18 February 2021
- 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
Allow me to thank the Premier for delivering an excellent State of the Province Address yesterday. He is to be congratulated on his firm, clear stand on many important issues. Taking a stand is exactly what we in this Government have to do if the institution of government is to survive the many attacks on it which we witness on an almost daily basis. I do not have to remind Honourable Members that without a functioning, structured government what we have is the chaos we are already experiencing in parts of our country.
As we continue to grapple with COVID 19, I would like to take this opportunity to send my condolences to all those who have succumbed to this deadly virus. I would like to thank our front- line service staff who’ve been central in fighting this pandemic. The unimaginable trauma and depression that you’ve suffered during this period doesn’t go unnoticed, and I’m confident with your dedication and commitment we will overcome this pandemic.
But the greatest pandemic that WE WILL not survive is the ANC government that became evident during President Ramaphosa’s State of the Province Address last week which was a clear indication the man is completely out touch with reality. Under his leadership, corruption, unemployment and poverty have worsened. Nice speeches, summits, commissions and good intentions WILL NOT dig us out of this hole but courageous leadership that is prepared to do what is unpopular, but what is right to save our country. President Ramaphosa unfortunately does not have it in him to do so.
All our efforts under this DA Provincial Government will come to naught as long as we have the corrupt and incompetent government under the ANC. So, I want to caution all those who are still in support Ramaphosa because they are scared of the alternative should he lose power, which is DD Mabuza. This twisted logic and misplaced loyalty is dangerous and costing us dearly. They must understand that DD is Ramaphosa, and Ramaphosa is DD. They will both always put the ANC above South Africa.
I, together with my colleagues fought tooth and nail, and continue to do so all the attempts by the ANC government to centralize power with an intention to get their hands on tills of a Province and municipalities they don’t control. We are already seeing this in Matzikama, Cedeberg, Beaufort West and the Central Karoo just few months after taking control of those municipalities - their coffers are dry. Joint District Approach is one of those attempts where the ANC government wants to deploy National Ministers to municipalities when they can’t even run their own departments. Together with the City of Cape we will also be challenging Administrative Adjudication of Roads Traffic Offences and many other legislations that are intended to erode powers of Provinces and Municipalities by National Government.
After destroying almost every State Owned Enterprises, how on earth can we trust this government with land reform through this mad idea of expropriation of land without compensation? Improve our health system through National Health Insurance? After shamelessly looting of PPE and health infrastructure funding to fight a deadly virus? How can we trust a government that cannot even get the rollout of the vaccine right?
Last week a terrible accident claimed the lives of four innocent children. This accident happened because of irresponsible people who dug a hole under the bridge stealing sand, risking the collapse of the bridge and the road. I visited all four families to send my deepest condolences. It’s really tragic to lose a child, and may God give those families strength to deal with this terrible loss. I asked my Department to conduct a full technical investigation into that accident and the outcomes will be shared in due course.
After numerous attempts to curb taxi violence, which have been partly successful, I was very saddened by the passing of three taxi operators in two incidents of shooting that took place in Delft and Bellville on Tuesday. Three other operators were injured. I condemn this act of thuggery which is a huge threat in our efforts to restore dignity in this industry. The investigation is underway and I’m hopeful perpetrators will be apprehended.
I was also inundated by calls and messages of concern and panic from people after a notice issued by CODETA which appeared to be a veiled threat against users of other modes of transport. I immediately convened an urgent meeting with the leadership of the association yesterday and they agreed to retract the notice. A joint statement we’ll be issued today outlining our position and the importance of operating within the ambit of the law. No one must take the law into their own hands no matter how aggrieved they might feel.
Speaker, I want to return briefly to my earlier remarks about how important it is to people and communities to have access to a functioning government by referring to two formal opening ceremonies which I attended recently. Neither facility which I opened falls into the category of mega projects and neither facility is going to have a profound impact on the wider economy.
But, Speaker, both facilities are going to improve the day to day lives of ordinary communities and make it possible for citizens to access information, government services, schooling and shopping – all essential to the living of decent lives.
One of these facilities, a former education hostel in Mossel Bay which had fallen into disrepair, has been renovated and converted into an easily accessible shared services centre housing departments of this government. The gratitude with which the community received this facility was overwhelming. This is a simple, affordable project which will make a huge difference to people’s lives – surely one of the key responsibilities of government.
I had the pleasure of opening the second of these facilities on Tuesday this week. The new pedestrian bridge across the N2 at the Gordon High School will provide safe, easy passage for all wanting to cross this busy highway - but particularly for the many children who live on the Western side of the highway. Although the bridge is a straight - forward concept, the context is such that putting it into place required a government department which could plan, co-operate with another sphere of government and a public school in the execution of the project.
Speaker, knowing the difference which these facilities make to people’s lives – and here I include our roads – my department moved swiftly to ensure that all projects which had been closed down because of the lockdown were assisted in reopening as quickly as possible so that jobs could be made available, employees could have access to incomes to feed their families and that any delays in project times were kept to a minimum.
I have moved about the Province widely to visit as many of these projects as possible and to encourage the companies and people involved and to monitor progress. I am most impressed by what I have seen.
Speaker, over the last 11 months of the pandemic there has been much talk of change and a new normal. And linked to these two terms is inevitably the concept of innovation. Much excellent work has emerged. The DTPW had to tackle increasing challenges in some areas well before the pandemic arrived and also developed innovative solutions.
My Department has been investing in technology for a number of years. Through focused efforts and the use of technology we were able to transform the way Provincial Traffic works. In the past it would take a traffic officer up to 40 minutes to complete a vehicle inspection and issue a fine. Now it takes a traffic officer around 6 minutes. Our technology has improved the way traffic officers work and has led to improvements in both efficiency and effectiveness. The impact of these innovations was seen in the positive improvements in the Festive Season Traffic Report which I released a few weeks ago
We were, however, pushed further by the very trying circumstances of the pandemic. We have repurposed our technology to enable the RED DOT Lite service (to transport health workers from hospitals to their neighbourhoods in the evenings) and the RED DOT service (transporting people from and to isolation and quarantine facilities).
Our system now allows us to identify potential criminals on our road and enables law enforcement stakeholders to intercept those criminals before crimes are committed.
It is this technology that will enable us to launch the Blue Dot Taxi service pilot as confirmed by the Premier in his address. Some of the features of this improved transport offering to Western Cape Commuters include:
- The establishing of new companies, representing all 8 regional taxi councils in the Province, to participate along with approximately 1,300 operators in a real empowerment environment.
- A shifting of the industry’s existing economic drivers which traditionally incentivised fare chasing, competition, recruitment of illegal operators and route contestation.
The Blue Dot Taxi system involves several innovative features:
Participating vehicles will be fitted with a tracker, monitored by us and will be rewarded for good performance, including good customer service and improved driver behaviour.
Monitoring will also allow more efficient response to instances of speeding, illegal operations, deviation from licensed routes and conflict.
Passengers will be empowered with the ability to provide feedback on the service by cellphone, which will influence taxi ratings and rewards.
The data from trackers will provide invaluable information which can be used to further improve services and public transport more broadly.
Speaker, this ground - breaking shift in the public transport space, which is a first in South Africa, has the support of Cabinet as a policy priority and will be funded by DTPW. It also has the full support of the industry as expressed in a recent formal letter of thanks.
Extract from the letter from Nazeem Abdurahman, Chairman of Umanyano Board.
“I am writing on behalf of Umanyano Travel Services (UTC) to express my gratitude for your continued support of the Province’s minibus taxi industry and the implementation of the Blue Dot Taxi pilot project. Since you became MEC of Transport and Public Works, we have noted the energy you bring to the role and your tireless determination to engage, listen, and work with the industry, including your efforts to address conflict, the provincial industry visits you conducted last year, your leading role in the Provincial taxi Lekgotla, and the implementation of the Red Dot Taxi. As a result, we have no doubt f your commitment to the industry and its development, as exemplified by the Blue Dot Taxi project.”
I will provide further details in my Budget Speech but can confirm, as the Premier has indicated, that the Blue Dot pilot will be launched before the end of the first quarter of this year.
I thank you.