South Africa has a new Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, who replaces former Minister Ben Martins who, in turn, has been moved to the post of Minister of Energy. This follows the recent Cabinet reshuffle by President Jacob Zuma.
Before giving readers background to the new Minister, FleetWatch would like to put on record its opinion that the continuous changing of the guard at the Ministry of Transport does not do justice to the importance of the position nor to the importance of transport as a vital factor in keeping the wheels of the economy turning.
The Minister of Transport has a huge portfolio which covers road, rail, sea and air and it is impossible for any person to come to grips with the full functions of all these sectors , especially when it comes to policy formulations – if not given time to do so.
Minister Martins was, for example, only in the position for a year before being moved out , and even he admitted the important role of the position when he stated that “transport is the heartbeat of South Africa’s economic growth and social development!”
Interesting is that a news release from the Automobile Association of South Africa voices the same concern. It states: “The Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) congratulates the new Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, on her appointment but is concerned, however, that frequent changes in this position do not allow critical decisions to be made and challenges to be adequately addressed.’
The statement went on to say that the outgoing Minister of Transport, Ben Martins, was in this position for only one year “so unfortunately, there is little evidence of the benefits of his term in office.’
“New appointments have a tendency to create additional delays, which means that concerns continue to go unresolved. In particular, issues such as eTolls, AARTO (Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences), the Decade of Action and a comprehensive road safety strategy are vital and yet remain largely ignored by the Ministry,’ says the AA.
The AA is correct. Perhaps it is because, as FleetWatch has so often stated in the past, the President of the country has little knowledge of the importance of this sector to the country. Certainly passenger transport is given a high profile , particularly the taxi sector – but as for road freight, it seldom gets the attention it deserves. All we hear is the cry to have goods shifted from road to rail without a full understanding of the ramifications of such a modal shift.
While FleetWatch also adds its congratulations to the new Minister on her appointment, we do hope that she will be around long enough for her to get to grips with the complexities of the different transport portfolios under her care , and certainly to give the road freight sector a higher profile.
With the number of changes to the top post over the past years, it seems like the Ministry of Transport has become the Ministry of Musical Chairs , and that is not good for the country.
That said, please click here should you wish to get more background on Minister Dipuo Peters: