The Gautrain is running, BRT buses are rolling in Joburg, the e-toll gantries are poised for switch-on… and now the Gauteng government has issued rules on how to consult with the public on transport planning.
The rules are in terms of a national law on transport planning, but apply only to Gauteng.
The “regulations on procedures to be followed in promoting public participation in transport planning process” were issued by the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport last week. They are in terms of the National Land Transport Act. The regulations are effective immediately.
The focus is on public consultation over the integrated transport plans which municipalities and the provincial government are required to draw up, and on ensuring that the various branches of government work together.
The issue of public consultation – how and whether this was done – was a fundamental part of the dispute over the e-tolls on Gauteng freeways.
While the courts ruled in favour of the government and the SA National Roads Agency Limited on that, the fight significantly delayed the e-tolling process. There is still no date for the start of e-tolling.
The regulations clearly set out how to consult the public on municipal and provincial transport plans. “Before municipalities may commence with the development of such integrated transport plans, members of the public and other interested parties must be invited to make written submissions on matters to be included and considered in the transport plans, taking into account the immediate transport needs and challenges of the public in that area of planning authority.”
PUBLIC MUST BE ALERTED
That invitation to comment must be published in at least two newspapers in the relevant geographical area and must be put on public noticeboards in the municipal offices.
After the municipalities finish the first draft of their transport plans, the public must be alerted and the draft made available for anyone to read it.
The public and “stakeholders” (including public transport operators, organisations with an interest in transport planning and relevant departments) must be invited to comment on the first draft.
“Where appropriate, the planning authority (the municipality) may invite stakeholders and members of the public to a meeting to deliberate on the comments made and to further clarify complex issues that may arise during the public participation process,” the regulations state.
After the public participation process, it must go to the municipality’s council for approval.
Then the plan must go to the MEC for roads and transport for approval, along with a report on the public participation process.
At a provincial level, the MEC must prepare a five-year provincial land transport framework. Like the municipal plans, the public must be alerted to the existence of the first draft, and may inspect it at the provincial offices and online, and comment on it.
The MEC must invite planning authorities and other relevant government departments to discuss the public comments. A second draft may be produced – again for public comment.
After the comments, the MEC must conduct public hearings on the revised draft, and must make the revised draft available for the public to read at least 30 days before the hearings.
The MEC’s final plan then goes to the minister of transport for approval, along with a record of the public participation process and copies of all interprovincial transport agreements.
Late last year, the Gauteng roads and transport MEC finalised a five-year transport plan for the province, following wide public consultation. A 25-year plan is in progress. -The Star