Learners have been back at school for almost a month and the Eastern Cape Department of Transport is still in the process of finalizing contracts for scholar transport operators.
I am calling on the Eastern Cape MEC of Transport yet again to take immediate steps to rectify the ongoing issues with Scholar Transport or hand the programme over to the Eastern Cape Education Department, which is better suited to identify learners most at need.
In a recent response to a follow-up parliamentary question, Eastern Cape Transport MEC, Weziwe Tikana Gxothiwe, said the phasing in of learners back to school has caused a delay, and that the department is still in the process of finalizing the contracts for the readiness of school re-opening.
Furthermore, the MEC has stated in her response that all 87 000 deserving learners will be transported once the process of contracting has been completed.
The department is so far behind, that they are still finalizing contracts when the academic year is almost over!
Unfortunately, the additional shutdown of schools in early August was clearly not enough time for the Department of Transport to ensure that there are sufficient operators or additional routes.
With Transport Month coming up, the MEC must prove that she takes children’s safety seriously by ensuring all children that need scholar transport have access to it, and not just state in a response that all 87 000 deserving learners will be transported.
I am once again calling for the Scholar Transport programme to be handed over to the Education Department, who are better equipped to identify which learners require assistance!
The Democratic Alliance will continue working towards a safe scholar transport system in the Eastern Cape.