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Minister of Transport, Dr Blade Nzimande, remarks at the Parliamentary Debate on RABS Bill

4 December 2018

Honourable House Chairperson
Honourable Members of Parliament
Cabinet Colleagues present
Deputy Minister of Transport, Honourable Sindisiwe Chikunga
Members of the Portfolio Committee on Transport, led by Honourable Chairperson, Ms. Dikeledi Magadzi

Today, our people have a reason to rejoice with the introduction of the RABS Bill to the National Assembly.

We are making a conscious decision to move away from the 1942 introduction of compulsory motor vehicle accident insurance scheme which culminated in the present compensation system established by the Road Accident Fund Act, 1996 (Act No. 56 of 1996).

The RABS Bill was published for public comment, and consultations sessions were held throughout the country with various stakeholders.

RABS is intended to replace the current fault-based system administered by the Road Accident Fund (RAF), which often results in extensive and costly litigation, prolonged claims finalisation and high administrative costs.

The Bill provide for the benefit scheme which is reasonable, equitable, affordable and sustainable.

It also proposes a comprehensive social security safety net scheme that is not fault-based and excludes from civil liability certain persons responsible for bodily injuries or death caused by or arising from road crashes.

The focus will essentially be on how the claimant is immediately assisted.

This no-fault scheme will create a new era of socio-economic balance and will also remove the unintended negative consequences and financial burden on the families of the wrongdoer.

The Bill will allow expanded access to the much needed benefits to road users.

These include the public and private transport passengers; widows, orphans and many other dependants, previously and currently excluded by virtue of fault.

As we enter the second phase of the democratic transition, our efforts are directed at the battle against the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality for Radical Economic Transformation of our society.

On this question, the ANC former President, Oliver Reginald Tambo, reminds us that, I quote: "The fight for freedom must go on until it is won; until our country is free and happy and peaceful, as part of the community of man, we cannot rest." Unquote

I agree with the assertions of President Tambo, that as government, we must not rest until this Bill has been signed into law. This will ensure that our people directly benefits from the scheme directly and able to change their lives post the crash.

Honourable Members,

The Road Accident Fund has been used as a cash-cow by unscrupulous stakeholders including lawyers and doctors just to mention a few.

Our government, cannot allow the abuse and theft of funding from road users through the RAF fuel levy, meant to alleviate the financial burden that result from the carnage on our roads, to be siphoned off to benefit the middleman and a privileged few.

Our courts are clogged with RAF matters causing much consternation on our justice system.

The unintended consequences of an unjust system, which for decades has seen many benefitting unfairly through abusing the system to receive millions of rands from the Fund whilst those deserving of compensation get limited compensation.

The Department of Transport and the RAF have fought many legal battles, some to the highest court of the land, to amongst other; provide an equitable and fair benefit whilst closing many loopholes.

Some of our stakeholders are hell-bent to fight against the system till the end.

Through various engagements with communities and victims, it is disheartening to hear of stories where benefits don't address the injury, loss of life or the suffering of victims or their dependants, because of the way RAF benefits are structured.

With RABS, that will be a thing of the past, as it will introduce defined benefits, timely and appropriate care based on reasonable tariffs.

RABS will alleviate the burden on our courts through the establishment of an internal appeal procedure.

RABS will provide pro-active assistance to crash victims and family members with emphasis on effective access to medical and vocational rehabilitation to improve victims' chances of re-entering the employment sphere and mainstream economy.

In terms of RABS, we will be able to offer this service to more clients - at an earlier stage of recovery, thus resulting in less trauma emanating from the crash.

We would assist claimants to achieve their optimal level of recovery, offer the necessary support and assistance to lower the devastation stemming from the crash.

We would also offer additional rehabilitation and intervene at an earlier stage - appointing a Case Manager to facilitate medical intervention and additional home/car adjustments as and when needed.

I thank you

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