The DA congratulates Mayor Phalatse on 105 newly refurbished buses to improve commuting for Johannesburg residents

The DA congratulates Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Mpho Phalatse on the 105 newly refurbished buses as well as the launch of the Mid-life Refurbishment Program to improve commuting for Johannesburg residents.

 

The City of Johannesburg appreciates that Metrobus is an integral part of the Integrated Public Transport Network in the city, moving over 20 000 commuters daily. The newly refurbished buses will enhance daily bus availability as the demand for public transport increases, due to the ever-increasing petrol price.

 

This increased fleet capacity for the purposes of improved transport services was achieved through the refurbishment of the entire bus drive train, flooring and renewal of floors and seating. These refurbished buses are being deployed mainly in high traffic routes to improve bus intervals during morning and afternoon peaks.

 

The bus refurbishment involves the following:

  • Body overhaul, i.e. interior and exterior overhauling;
  • Drive train overhaul, i.e. engine, gearbox and differential overhaul;
  • Safety components overhaul, i.e. the air system, breaking system and engine compartment rewiring;
  • This refurbishment will decrease downtime for minor running repairs, prevent major component failures costs as well as increase overall bus reliability for the next 5-7 years;
  • It will also reduce maintenance costs of the vehicle, because the servicing and maintenance will be carried out according to the new bus schedule indicated above; and
  • Also refurbishing the Euro5 buses now will give Metrobus the opportunity to replace the faulty fuel plastic tanks to stronger aluminium tanks which will increase the life span.

 

Through this initiative the City of Johannesburg seeks to maintain a high standard of quality in service and performance is of paramount importance to encourage people to make public transport their preferred choice.

 

The extent to which people are able to use the opportunities available is dependent on how easily they are able to move around their towns, their cities and their country. The DA will continue to work to create a seamless, well managed and affordable transport network.

Gauteng residents continue to be strung along by the Minister of Transport on e-Tolls

Minister ‘String-a long’ Mbalula has once again moved the goal posts for the scrapping of e-Tolls in Gauteng. The residents of this province will not be getting any relief from having to pay for a system they did not agree to in the first place.

Earlier this week, he announced that Gauteng residents now have to wait a bit longer before a concrete decision will be made on the future of e-Tolls. For a long time now, the Minister of Transport has been kicking the can down the road on this issue and strung Gauteng residents along, giving them false hope that e-Tolls would be eradicated.

Since 2018, the people of Gauteng have been made numerous promises that e-Tolls will be scrapped, and a task team had been set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa to look into this matter.

It is unacceptable that this matter has been dragging on for so long and places a huge burden on our residents who are struggling to afford basic goods and services due to the high costs.

The DA demands that a decision be taken once and for all on this matter as it is not feasible to have the e-Tolling system in place. Furthermore, the DA calls on the MEC for Roads and Transport, Jacob Mamabolo to share the proposals the Gauteng government made to the Minister of Transport on the funding of the e-Toll system.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the government to ensure that when projects have been undertaken that place a financial burden on the residents of the province, proper public engagement takes place so that we do not have a repeat of the e-Toll saga.

Additional 5% to be added on the unwanted e-Toll fees, while residents are already battling high cost of living

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has learnt with great disappointment that the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has increased e-Toll fees by 5%. 

This is once again confirmation that the Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula has absolutely no intention of getting rid of e-Tolls. 

This is extremely disappointing as it means that for at least the last five years the people of Gauteng have been lied to about e-Tolls. 

 Every year since 2018, the Minister of Transport, Premier David Makhura and MEC for Roads and Transport have been promising that e-Tolls will be scrapped. 

 This has come to naught and our residents continue to get e-Toll bills which they cannot afford to pay. 

 Our residents already have a tight budget and e-Tolls is just an extra burden on them. 

 The DA maintains that e-Tolls have no place in Gauteng and they should be scrapped immediately. 

 It is high time that Mbalula makes a firm decision on e-Tolls. 

 We will continue to put pressure on National and Provincial Government to scrap e-Tolls and we will use all mechanisms at our disposal in all the spheres of government to fight e-Tolls. 

 

 

President Ramaphosa mum on e-Tolls that continue to be a burden to Gauteng residents

The DA and residents in Gauteng are disappointed that President Cyril Ramaphosa did not mention the scrapping of e-Tolls in the province during his State of the Nation Address last night.

In light of his economic growth plans he missed an opportunity to go the whole hog and free Gauteng’s economy all the way. Gauteng makes the largest contribution to our country’s economy and abolishing the burden of e-tolls could have benefitted the country as a whole.

This is an indictment on the residents of our province who are unable to afford to pay for a system that was imposed on them without any due process being followed.

This system is negatively impacting our already struggling economy as many small businesses were unable to afford to pay the e-Tolling fee each time their vehicles delivering goods passed a e-Toll gantry.

It is clear that the decision on e-Tolls has once again been kicked down the road which is not surprising at all.

As the DA we will continue to fight for the rights of our residents in the province, when we see that a new system that is intended to uplift our infrastructure is unfairly imposed on our residents.

The time for using e-Tolls as a political football and voting fodder is over and we demand that the ANC-led government makes a firm decision on this system for once and for all.

 

PUTCO bus contract was irregularly extended for over 20 years at the expense of commuters’ safety

The Public Utility Transport Corporation (PUTCO) bus company has been, and continues to be, under heavy public criticism following deadly incidents involving its buses where the lives of many innocent commuters were lost and some sustained critical injuries, yet the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport irregularly extends its contract.

Last year, a PUTCO bus carrying passengers caught fire on the road and six passengers died while many sustained critical injuries. This incident happened along the deadly Moloto Road, and it was not long after another PUTCO bus which was not carrying passengers at the time, burnt on the N1 in Pretoria.

These are two of many incidents that have occurred, and the residents of Gauteng have been complaining about poor services delivery by PUTCO buses. They claim that some of the buses are not roadworthy, they are old, always having breakdowns and do not honour pick-up points.

Residents concerned about their safety on the road took the matter to the Public Protector who revealed that PUTCO bus company has been illegally benefiting from the irregular extension of its contracts by the Gauteng Department of Transport since 1997.

According to the report, the PUTCO bus contract which was initially awarded to the company for only 136 weeks in 1997, has been renewed without due process being followed until now causing an unfair competitive advantage for PUTCO. Shockingly, the Public Protector also found that 108 other bus contracts were extended irregularly and that there was a lack of proper performance management.

This confirms the DA’s stance that the quality of transport available to Gauteng commuters has deteriorated to the extent that bus services have become death traps for commuters.

Introducing proper competition in the provision of public bus transport for consumers will improve the quality of services offered.

Furthermore, many bus companies that have been operating in Gauteng had to close operations due to financial challenges leaving hundreds of people jobless. Should this tender be advertised regularly as it supposed to be, it will save many jobs and ensure that a quality service is rendered instead of a one monopoly company for over two decades.

The revelation by the Public Protector comes after various MECs for Roads and Transport had promised to advertise the bus contracts but failed to deliver on their promises. We question why PUTCO has been a preferred service provider while there are hundreds of other bus companies in Gauteng.

While there have been some legal challenges to the issuing of bus contract tenders, the department also failed to manage its supply chain management processes properly.

Only now that the Public Protector has entered the fray is there movement in advertising these tenders.

The DA will continue to demand access to proper, reliable, and safe public transport for the residents of Gauteng. We will also continue to pressure the department to introduce competition in the public transport market by regularly advertising tenders for bus services.

The DA’s solution is that government must invest in rail and BRT services on the current routes being serviced by these bus contracts, which are unsustainable in the long run.

Over R76 million lost to theft, vandalism of train stations in Gauteng, commuters forced to fork out more money for transport

It is extremely concerning that Metrorail in Gauteng has lost R76 810 980,00 due to vandalism and theft at its train stations during January 2020 and February 2021.

In addition, during this period, 271 Motor Coaches and 336 Plain Trailers were vandalised resulting in a total cost R810 800,00.

Currently, there are only six out of 17 lines operating due to this.

This information was revealed by the MEC for Transport, Jacob Mamabolo, to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

According to the MEC, 4000 additional security guards will be deployed nationally by the Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa (PRASA) during this month and there will also be the additional deployment of security guards to Mabopane Corridor as part of the Presidential projects.

The vandalism of trains in our province is putting additional pressure on our already constrained transport system in the province, while also placing an additional financial burden on our commuters who use trains on a daily basis to and from work.

Out of all the public transport available, travelling by train to and from work is the most cost-effective way to commute on a daily basis.

For a long time now, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has been calling on the Gauteng government to establish a dedicated railway police unit to help safeguard and keep our train infrastructure secure from criminals.

Where we govern in the Western Cape, PRASA has signed a memorandum of agreement with the government for the formation of a dedicated enforcement unit which focuses solely on the safety and security of train commuters and infrastructure.

The DA will continue to demand that a similar agreement be reached in Gauteng. Our commuters deserve to have a public transport system that is safe, reliable and gets them to work on time. A transport system that works efficiently will ensure that we have an economy that works.

Local Government Elections are coming up! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Germiston Taxi Operators forced to break the law because of licensing centre chaos

Today I visited the Germiston Taxi Rank to discuss how the licensing backlog has impacted taxi operations in the region and what effect this has had on commuters.

Despite Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Jacob Mamabolo indicating that licensing centres will be open for extended hours to deal with the backlog, taxi operators in Germiston feel that this is too little too late.

The main frustration experienced by operators and owners is that the online booking system provides slots that are often up to 100km away from where they work and live.

This is not feasible as most drivers do not own private vehicles and cannot drive in excess of 100km to renew their license.

Taxi owners cannot afford their drivers to make use of these taxi’s to renew their licenses as this would equate to a loss of income for both the operator and driver, as well as a shortage of transport for commuters.

While we welcome the announcement by Mamabolo, it is crucial that the booking system be reconfigured to bring the renewal process closer to where people live and work.

Operators and drivers signed a petition which I will submit in the Gauteng Legislature requesting that Mamabolo attend to this as soon as possible.

As Mayor of Ekurhuleni, I will ensure that licencing centres in the city are capacitated and fully operational.

I will also ensure that both the National and Provincial Departments are held accountable in their respective roles to ensure that these centres function and that the people of Ekurhuleni get the services that they deserve.

Local Government Elections are coming up! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status. 

Driver licence deadline extension will keep Gauteng motorists legal

Gauteng motorists face the very real possibility of becoming illegal drivers and have their vehicle insurance lapse if they cannot renew their driver’s licences by the end of August 2021. The validity of these licences that expired between 26 March and 31 December 2020 were extended until 31 August 2021 to assist those motorists to renew their licences when they could not do so during the lockdowns of 2020.

However, due to an ineffective online booking system, broken eye testing and finger printing machines, reduced capacity in Driver Licence Testing Centres (DLTC) due to Covid-19 restrictions, and corruption, motorists cannot secure bookings in time to renew their driver licences before the 31 August deadline.

The DA expects nothing less than from the Minister for Roads and Transport, Fikile Mbalula, to extend the validity period of these extended licences immediately to the end of February 2022. Minister Mbalula can no longer avoid the issue and his immediate intervention is obligatory.  It is unconscionable to not accommodate these motorists who find themselves in a very legally vulnerable situation, that was not even of their own doing.

An extension will allow more time for motorists to obtain license renewal slots, especially in light of the Road Traffic Management Corporation’s (RTMC) acknowledgement that there is a backlog of 500 000 licences. This extension is indispensable as the current backlog cannot be eradicated in the next two weeks.

We furthermore repeat our call to scrap the online booking system in the meantime to combat corruption and allow for motorists to use DLTCs as walk-in centres so that more motorists can be assisted.

Despite various promises by the Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Jacob Mamabolo, no improvements have been forthcoming to increase the capacity at DLTCs or making online booking slots available to motorists.

In December 2020, the DA made practical proposals to the Minister, MEC and RTMC. Some of which the MEC indicated he will implement but has so far failed to do so.

These proposals include the following:

  • Allow special after-hours and weekend services for PrDP applicants.
  • Allow Gauteng drivers to renew their driver’s licences anywhere in the country.
  • Immediately allow Gauteng motorists to renew licences at the following surrounding towns: Emalahleni, Delmas, Leandra, Evander, Secunda, Balfour, Sasolburg, Parys, Ventersdorp, Hartbeespoort, Brits, Bela-Bela, Rustenburg, Potchefstroom and Standerton.
  • Provide for online applications where drivers can pay their application fees and fill out all forms electronically before visiting a DLTC.
  • Allow for applicants submitting eye tests for the tests to be evaluated in their absence (e.g. after-hours) and that they must only be called for another visit (eye test) if the eye test submitted is unsatisfactory.
  • Increase the number of eye testers at DTLCs to provide faster service and to accommodate more slots daily.
  • Reduce the response time to repair eye testing machines.
  • Allow reputable chains and practices (such as optometrists, banks, supermarkets, etc.) to provide the renewal of driver’s licences on an agency basis.
  • Conduct an audit into whether all available slots are being communicated to the RTMC by licence testing centres and whether all slots provided to the RTMC are indeed logged onto the eNatis system.
  • Allow for the booking system to prioritise licences that are overdue for renewal.
  • Extend the term for driver’s licence renewals to a longer-term (e.g.7 or 10 years).

The DA will keep pushing for the implementation of these solutions until the capacity of DLTCs in Gauteng can match the demand for licence testing and renewal.

The main priority now should be to assist as many motorists as possible to renew their licences to ensure they can operate their licences legally and retain their jobs where they are dependent on their licences to operate a vehicle as part of their employment.

Local Government Elections are coming up! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA calls for scrapping of license booking system to make more renewal slots available to motorists

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is concerned that motorists will not be able to renew their licenses before they expire, turning them into criminals which could potentially affect their vehicle insurance cover.

Motorists in our province are anxious that their licenses will expire by the end of August and that they will be driving illegally because they cannot get online booking slots to renew their licences. Many motorists require valid licenses to retain their jobs. Should they be unable to renew their licenses, they may find themselves in the unemployment line.

I am therefore calling on the MEC for Roads and Transport, Jacob Mamabolo, to provisionally scrap the online booking system and allow for all motorists who face expiring licenses to utilise driver license testing centres on a walk-in basis.

The DA believes that the problem of a lack of license renewal slots lies with the online booking system and that more motorists can be assisted daily if walk-ins are allowed at driver license testing centres. We believe that not all slots are made available on the online booking system severely limiting the capacity of licensing centres to assist the optimal number of motorists on a daily basis.

Scrapping the booking system will free up slots booked by no-shows as well as slots that corrupt officials sell to motorists.

Once the capacity of licensing centres has been expanded and once a quality assured online booking system is guaranteed, only then can the online booking system be reintroduced. The current system is simply just not working and must be scrapped until a proper system can be designed.

The main priority now should be to assist as many motorists as possible to renew their licenses to ensure they can operate their licenses legally and retain their jobs where they are dependent on their licenses to operate a vehicle as part of their employment. The DA will continue to fight to ensure that law-abiding citizens aren’t turned into criminals by an inefficient government system”

Local Government Elections are coming up! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

MEC Mamabolo must stop holding out false hope on e-Tolls

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on the MEC for Transport, Jacob Mamabolo, to stop causing confusion about the future of e-Tolls. The comments he made during an interview with SAFM this morning that e-Tolls have been scrapped in the province, has caused false hope, where he was subsequently forced to clarify his confusing comments.

This has caused unnecessary confusion, considering that the National Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, was supposed to make an announcement last week, but was still in talks with the task team that was set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa to look at the e-Toll issue and possible solution in the province.

For a long time, we have been putting pressure on the ANC-led government to scrap e-Tolls as it is an unfair burden on the residents of this province who cannot afford to pay for something they were not consulted on.

If e-Tolls have indeed been scrapped, the DA welcomes this but it appears as if the MEC has spoken out of turn. On several occasions, ANC leaders have been using this as an electioneering tool which is unacceptable, giving our residents false hope.

We urge politicians and political heads to refrain from making irresponsible statements about e-Tolls as it affects our livelihoods.

The announcement still rests with Minister Mbalula. We hope the MEC’s confirmation was not premature and that he indeed shares the views of Minister Mbalula.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.