FUNDING SHORTFALL CONCERNS FOR EC SCHOLAR TRANSPORT CONTRACT

There is a danger that funding for the R210 million scholar transport contract between the Department of Transport and the service provider, One Future 46, will run out by October 2012. Furthermore, an amount of R134 million will be required to cover the budget shortfall from November 2012 to March 2013.

Scholars will be the victims of academic failure if they can’t access transport to school. If the funding is used up by October, children will be without transport during most important time of an academic year: final exams. This situation is creating anxiety among schools, parents and learners alike.

From 1 April 2012 to 26 October 2012, seven months into the contract, the department’s actual spending will have been R344 million for 54 472 learners.

While the portfolio committee on transport has been given assurances that the department is negotiating with National Treasury in this regard, no extra funding has yet been secured.

The DA passed a motion in the National Council of Provinces to alert both the Ministers of Education and of Transport of the looming shortfall and the effect on learners.

I will in my speech today during the legislature debate on the budget for the Department of Transport be asking these questions and suggest that:

1. The department do proper budget planning and oversight of One Future 46 and request regular financial- and progress reports.

2. That the department reports to the portfolio committee on transport on the legitimacy of the R134 million shortfall on the contract with One Future 46, in terms of the PFMA.

3. The department plan and develop a medium to long term holistic integrated transport strategy for the province allowing scholars and the public alike to choose the mode of transport that best satisfies their individual transport needs.

The DA will continue to drive the issue until there is a guarantee that transport for the all 115 000 learners on the province who are in need of transport is secure.

Learners have the right to the open opportunities that a quality education can offer.