South Africa: Minister Dipuo Peters On Cross Border Road Transport Operators

Joint statement by the Minister of Transport, Ms Dipuo Peters and the delegation from Free State Province led by MEC for Police, Roads and Transport Mr Sam Mashinini

The Minister of Transport, Ms Dipuo Peters together with the high delegation from the Free State Province, led by MEC Sam Mashinini, representing the Premier of the Free State, held a cordial and fruitful meeting today, 31 January 2017 in Pretoria.

Amongst the issues discussed are the cross border transport operator’s challenges following the recent conflict and violent incidents between the Cross Border Road Transport Operators and the Free State Taxi Operators at Ports of entry in Free State.

From 2 till 4 January 2017, the Cross-Border Road Transport Operations from the Kingdom of Lesotho were allegedly hindered at Points of Entry in Free State Province as a result of the conflict between the Cross Border Operators from the Kingdom of Lesotho and the domestic Taxi Operators who are based in the Free State Province.

Subsequently, the Maseru Border Post was blocked, which made it difficult for people to move between the two countries.

This was in direct contrast to the laws which govern the Cross-Border Road Transport between South Africa and the neighbouring countries.

In considering the matter, the meeting was guided by the following considerations:

Southern African Customs Union Memorandum of Understanding on Road Transportation (SACU MoU);

Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology;

Bilateral Agreement on roads Transportation; and

Matatiele Agreement, held on the 11th December 2016 2 According to preliminary investigation, it is alleged that legitimate Cross Border Operators were prevented from conducting Cross Border Operations from the Kingdom of Lesotho into the Republic of South Africa. The standoff between the two operators resulted in the Border Post being blocked on 2, 3 and 04 January 2017.

However, following the intervention by various Stakeholders and Law Enforcement Authorities, the Border Post was reopened. The temporary closure of the Border Post inconvenienced the innocent commuters who relied on cross border road transport to reach their expected destinations.

Moreover, the failure to facilitate normal cross border operations has a direct negative impact on commuters who depend on passenger transport to traverse between South Africa and neighbouring countries.

Both the National Department of Transport and the Free State Provincial delegation acknowledged the on-going challenges and conflicts on the RSA / Lesotho corridor that negate the implementation of the SACU MoU and SADC Protocol and that the crossborder road transportation of passengers and goods is a vital input to key sectors of the economy and challenges such as the abovementioned conflict have a negative impact on the efficiency and competitiveness of South Africa’s economy as well as growth in the SADC region.

The meeting therefore agreed as follows:

The meeting mandated the National Ministerial Task Team (NMTT) to reconvene and report back within two weeks on the 15th February 2017;

The NMTT amongst others will look at the economic opportunities for the Free State Taxi Operators that can be created applying Section 75 of the National Land Transport Act; especially for towns bordering Lesotho point of entry.

The NMTT will also verify operators who operates within the Inter Provincial and Intra provincial for possibilities of awarding them cross border licenses.

The South African Minister of Transport will communicate with the SADC Secretariat regarding developments on this matter. She will also flag issues of Safety and Security of passengers and vehicles on the Lesotho border side.

Source: Department of Transport