New scholar transport contract must be finalised

Clear timeframes must be spelled out by the Department of Transport for providing scholar transport in the Eastern Cape. We cannot allow another school year to be disrupted where learners are left in the lurch because of inadequate transport.

It is high time that we put the learners first and the tenderpreneurs second. The education of our learners cannot be held hostage by vested interests.

Details are unclear of the process of changing from the current contract with One Future Development 46 NPC (OFD), which is a consortium of the Eastern Cape Bus and Taxi Business Chamber (ECBTBC), to a system where bus and taxi –operators will deal directly with the department.

The contract is due to end in December, after it had been extended a number of times since 2011.

I will request that the department presents a detailed explanation and time frames for the implementation of the new system at the next meeting of the legislature’s portfolio committee on transport.

Scholar transport must not be disrupted at the commencement of the 2015 academic school year. Transport MEC Weziwe Tikana and her department have had plenty of time to re-look the OFD-contract and to come up with alternatives.

In a reply to a legislature question I asked the MEC, she stated that “it must be understood that the scholar transport services can only be delivered in conjunction with funding that is made available”. According to the reply, the allocation of R356 076 million for the 2014/15 financial year would allow for the transport for 57 176 scholars.

Reply to question 91 of 2014

In contrast, in 2011 before the contract was awarded to OFD, some 110 000 scholars benefitted from scholar transport, at a cost of R250 million.

The province is not getting value for money out of the OFD-contract, nor the scholars who are desperate for a decent education. The shocking safety record, unreliable service and loss of innocent young lives caused by the operators of OFD are a major concern.

We must ensure that the new system starts off in time and that it is to the benefit of scholars.