The Department of Transport has assured tour operators in the tourism industry that it is racing against time to process all operating licences for tour operators.
This follows delays caused mainly by the pandemic, which led to the capacity challenges within the National Public Transport Regulator (NPTR) – which resulted in a backlog in processing operating licences.
As part of addressing the backlog in renewal applications, now drastically reduced, the department has achieved progress in administrative processes that include, among others:
- Increased capacity of the NPTR Support staff with an additional complement of personnel, adding 17 positions to the establishment of the NPTR support staff to urgently deal with public transport issues relating to the issuing of operating licences for the transportation of tourists and interprovincial services. Further recruitment is underway with some processes at an advanced stage.
- Redesigning and implementing the National Land Transport Information System (NLTIS) to enable online applications and electronically communicate the real-time status and progress of applications with applicants. The designs and proposals that are in the NPTR module on the redesigned NLTIS are aligned to some of the proposed solutions presented by the National Red Tape Reduction Task Team and the tourism industry.
This is intended to improve efficiency and the turn-around times to finalise applications.
“The pro-longed absence of an NPTR Committee and the ambiguities of interpretation as well as the implementation of the National Land Transport Act, Act 05 of 2009 (NLTA) will now be a thing of the past for many operators. An interim NPTR Committee has been appointed to deal with the backlog of applications.
“Following the appointment of the Committee, the Department is happy to announce that with effect from the beginning of July 2022, the Regulator has been printing licences and contacting operators to submit correctly completed and outstanding documentation to enable the smooth flow of application processing. To date, 227 renewals have been processed,” the department said on Sunday.
The newly appointed Committee has also committed to engage stakeholders to deal with the challenges and grievances of the industry.
Scheduled stakeholder engagements will sit to create a common understanding and interpretation of the NLTA and its regulations as well as to deal with specific matters raised to date by stakeholders.
The Department has also assured the industry that it is on course to bring major benefits in the 2022/23 financial year, including among others:
- Transport Appeal Tribunal (TAT) Amendment Bill to be approved by Parliament,
- Full capacitation and operational capability of the NPTR to be achieved, and
- The effective standardisation of Provincial Regulatory Entity (PRE) business processes, which have required review and amendments for compliance with proposed legislative improvements.
The department has acknowledged the critical role of the tourism sector in the country’s economy as an important contributor to government’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan and therefore an important conduit for the creation of jobs.
“Tourism remains an important building block among others for the growth of rural and township economies, which must in turn be driven by efficient and integrated transport systems as enablers for the development of the industry, growing the economy and reversing the impacts of the COVID pandemic which makes tourism amongst the hardest hit.
“The department has therefore ensured it remains an enabler rather than a barrier in the growth path of the tourism industry by improving regulatory and administrative practices for inclusive participation and sector growth. The department also continues to work together with the Department of Tourism and the industry in this regard,” the department said.