Gas should be used as an energy alternative to mitigate the impact of power challenges currently faced by the country. This came out during the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources public hearings on the Gas Amendment Bill in Mbombela. The amendment bill is in relation to the Gas Act of 2001.

The Gas Amendment Bill seeks to regulate the gas industry, promote socio-economic and environmentally sustainable development and also enforce compliance among others. The people who attended the public hearings raised concerns such as the lack of transformation in the industry and also with the pricing.

South Africa has been experiencing rolling blackouts:

Access to the industry

Mxolisi Siweya of Komati Group is distributing gas and diesel in Msholozi near Mbombela. He has employed about 15 staff. Siweya told the Committee that the industry could bring solutions to unemployment and power challenges faced by the country. He called on government to promote accessibility to the industry.

” Let more people come to the industry, the bill must develop an awareness, to say this is what people need and more black people must come in because it is one of the industry which has not transformed, let it not be restrictive and encourage more people to come in. Unemployment is too high, this is one industry that can create employment, as the country we can be beneficial from all sectors, so let’s educate people to say it’s alternative energy, we have got a power crisis right now.”

Sibusiso Mabuza from the Youth Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Mpumalanga says government should also pay more attention and deal with fronting in the industry.

” We believe that it hinders development and beneficiation of young people in this country, which is a serious problem for us because we understand that South Africa is a predominantly youth country and the youth are the most affected with unemployment and that puts the country at risk of total collapse.”

Enforcement of compliance

Meanwhile, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources Sahlulele Luzipo says the bill is mainly to enforce compliance.

” Part of the problem is that as much of the act spoke about penalties, sanction it didn’t specify what are the sanctions at this stage. It gives regards to the issue of penalties, one of the examples is that non-compliance can lead to a licence being penalised to R2 million a day and also having that licence reviewed.”

The issue of safety for employees is another priority for the bill. On Sunday, the Gas Amendment Bill public hearings will be held in Emalahleni. The Committee will proceed to other provinces until the bill is referred back to Parliament early next year.