Parliament, Sunday, 19 November 2021 â€“ The Portfolio Committee on Transport has been urged to ensure the appointment of fit and proper persons to the Railway Safety Regulator Board to prevent the collapse of the entity. Yesterday the committee concluded the first of its two public hearings on the Railway Safety Bill in Matlosana, in the North West province.

The community argued that the appointment of fit and proper persons will ensure high standard of good governance and enable the regulator to achieve the objectives of the Bill and enhance safety of the railway system. Some participants highlighted that many state owned entities are collapsing because of the appointment of weak and inefficient boards. They said those boards exercise poor governance and abandon the mandates of those entities, a tendency which the current Bill must prevent.

Also, some participants called for Parliament, through the Portfolio Committee on Transport, to play a more active role in the appointment process of the board, and not only to be notified by the Minister as proposed in Section 11 (5) of the Bill. According to participants this will lead to a more participatory and transparent process.

Many participants emphasised the critical role of cooperation and collaboration as spelt out in Section 7 (2) (b) of the Bill and as it relates to collaboration with the South African Police Service. This will according to participants, ensure safety of commuters when they utilise the railway system. The Bill received overwhelming support from the residents of the district.

Participants called for effective implementation of the Bill because currently government has an unimpressive record in implementing progressive laws intended to benefit the people. Adherence to safety standard will be ensured by close inspection as outlined in Section 36 of the Bill.

Meanwhile, the majority of participants supported the Bill because of their belief that a safe railway system guarantees positive spin-offs for economic growth which will create employment opportunities for South Africans on a sustainable basis. Moreover, a safer railway system will be an enabler to efforts to move freight from roads to rail. Furthermore, participants argued that the reduction of the transportation of goods by trucks on roads to rail will minimise road accidents which remain a worrying trend in the country.

Despite the fact that the hearings are about the Bill, many participants raised challenges that riddle the rail industry currently, challenges that include unavailability of trains, poor maintenance, rise of criminal elements within the system and lack of access to rail transport for many people.

Participants called for improvement of railway infrastructure development to expand the scope of transport for commuters to choose the mode of transport to use on the basis of safety and affordability. The committee assured participants that this process is not a tick-box exercise and their qualitative views will be considered when the committee deliberates on the inputs it received from all the provinces.

The committee will today hold the second hearing in Rustenburg. It invites interested individuals and organisations to come and share their views with the committee.

Details of the Hearings (Day 2)
Date: Sunday, 20 November 2022
Venue: Old Town Hall Rustenburg
Time: 10:00


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