Parliament, Monday, 6 February 2023 – The residents of greater Ethekwini Metropolitan Municipality have urged the Portfolio Committee on Transport to ensure the speedy implementation of the Railway Safety Bill to alleviate the safety concerns that have led to the move away from rail as a preferred mode of transport and the associated high rail travel costs.
The committee concluded its public participation process in KwaZulu-Natal after the committee held successful hearings on the Bill in Richards Bay, Pietermaritzburg and Durban. There was general consensus that the availability of trains will lessen the current pressure caused by high travel costs, especially for the poor.
Many residents felt that the Bill does not put enough emphasis on users of the railway system and was more focused on operators. While this is necessary to ensure that operators adhere to high safety standards, they said the Bill must also be people-centric. In line with this, there was a suggestion that the Bill must establish an entity similar to the Road Accident Fund to process claims lodged by people involved in railway accidents.
Also, residents attending the hearings highlighted their concerns about the effects theft and vandalism of rail infrastructure have on their safety. To remedy this, participants called for closer collaboration between rail operators and communities living near railway lines as a means to fight this scourge. Furthermore, as per clause 38 of the Bill, which highlights the need for consultative forums to enhance railway safety, participants argued for enhanced collaboration with the South African Police Service to enhance safety.
The Bill received overwhelming support from participants who argued that there is need for enhanced safety within the railway system. Furthermore, participants called for monitoring and evaluation systems to be strengthened to ensure effective implementation of the Bill.
Furthermore, participants underscored that the cost of upgrading and maintaining road infrastructure will be reduced as people and goods will be moved from road to rail transport as a direct result of a safe railway environment. They also said that moving people and goods from road to rail will minimise road fatalities.
The committee appreciated the substantive inputs received from residents of KwaZulu-Natal and assured participants that their views will strengthen the Bill and contribute to making the railway system stronger. The committee will continue to conduct public hearings in the remaining provinces and will then deliberate and consider all the inputs received from the public hearings.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT, MR LISA MANGCU
For media enquiries or interviews with the Co-Chairpersons, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Malatswa Molepo (Mr)
Parliamentary Communication Services
Tel: 021 403 8438
Cell: 081 512 7920