Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency(ANA)
Johannesburg - The drafting of the Railway Safety Bill has cost taxpayers about R2.4 million, according to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.

“The specialist drafting of the bill was assigned to external contractors (at a cost of) R2421796.62,” Mbalula said in a written response to a parliamentary question by DA MP Chris Hunsinger.

Hunsinger asked whether the Railway Safety Bill had been submitted to Cabinet and what the outcome was.

He also wanted to know whether any legislation on railway safety was being developed, what stage it was at and which of the legislation had been assigned to external contractors drafting and at what cost.

The bill is aimed at improving railway safety and also create a governance structure to oversee the work of the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR).

In his response, Mbalula said there was no expenditure incurred on the development of the Rail Safety Bill in the last quarter of 2018/19 and that there was no reporting.

“The Railway Safety Bill was submitted to Cabinet on February 7 last year and approved for public consultation,” he said.

Mbalula also said work on the development of the Railway Safety Bill commenced on September 15, 2015, and was concluded on March 31, 2019.

He stated that the Railway Safety Bill had already been developed.

Earlier this month, the minister announced during an inspection at the Transnet freight rail yard in Durban that he would later this year be tabling before Parliament a Railway Safety Bill.

He had in his budget vote speech said there was an obligation to ensure that railway operators adhered to the highest safety standards in line with international norms.

“The Railway Safety Regulator is an agency of the Department of Transport whose mandate is to develop and enforce a robust railway safety management system for the country,” he said.

In 2017/18 the Railway Safety Regulator reported 4 478 incidents in the railway environment across all categories.

The incidents were up by 10% increase from the previous year.

A draft bill published for comment last year states that the bill would address the regulatory and capacity gaps in the provision of a cost-effective and efficient transport system.

“Once promulgated and implemented, the act will ensure improvement in general safety within the railway environment thereby making rail an attractive mode of transport and that will contribute to the economy of the country,” read the draft bill at the time.

Political Bureau