Blade Nzimande. File photo: ANA
JOHANNESBURG - New transport Minister Blade Nzimande takes over his position with big challenges facing the industry, including the unworkable Gauteng e-toll system, underspending on capital budgets and addressing lawlessness on the roads.

Azar Jammine, chief economist at Econometrix, said a major challenge was the underspending on the transport capital budget, with most of the money going towards paying the increased salaries of public servants.

Jammine said transport and logistics received the biggest share of any sector in the three-year public expenditure framework at about 34percent.

However, Jammine said the capital budget had been reduced to R834 billion from R947bn for the next three years but there had not been any reduction in current expenditure, which increased by 7.3percent a year, two percentage points above the inflation rate.

Jammine said the country was using its roads as the main means of transport, which was putting a lot of strain on road infrastructure, and greater emphasis should be put on rail infrastructure, so more goods were transported by rail, while the e-toll system would have to be addressed.

“It’s a real mess now. The sad part is if they had introduced 9c litre on the fuel price in about May 2011, at a time when the fuel price came down by 75c a litre, they would have got all the money needed for the road network and would by now also be R14bn better off,” he said.

The Automobile Association said road safety remained a massive challenge, with road fatalities costing the economy an estimated R143bn each year.

Hendrik Moolman, the chairperson of the technical committee of National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa, said that the new transport minister needed to investigate the introduction of annual roadworthy testing on vehicles older than five years.

Moolman said that other issues that needed to be addressed were the proliferation of descriptions of commercial vehicle bodies on the eNatis system and the payment of vehicle licences based on an empty vehicle rather than the gross vehicle mass of a vehicle.