Durban — The eThekwini Municipality bus commuters are up in arms over what they call “the municipality’s insensitivity and neglect” towards the lack of municipal buses to transport them to and back from work daily.
Bus commuters from the uMlazi, Ntuzuma, KwaMashu, Inanda and other areas have said that they have been encountering bus problems, both in the morning and afternoon, for months and the municipality simply “turns a blind eye” to their problems.
Commuters catching buses home from the Workshop Bus Terminus in the CBD said that taking buses every evening has become a nightmare.
“We find ourselves having to wait for 30 minutes, sometimes up to an hour or more for a 6pm bus to arrive. When it does, it is usually full, so much so that some passengers will be left behind, or if you are able to force your way in, have to stand on one leg until you arrive at your jump-off stop,” said an angry Joshua Khuzwayo, of uMlazi.
Mary Mkondo, of K-section, KwaMashu, said that her life has been turned upside down by the irregular bus schedules they have been experiencing for months.
“Now that it is winter, we get mugged by the criminals when we arrive at home in the evenings. We have had to hire ‘security’ to protect us from the bus stops until we get to our homes because the criminals are mugging us, robbing us of our possessions, and some people have been murdered by these ‘amapara’.
“Sometimes we find ourselves forced to use taxis while we have bus tickets because the buses are either late, are full, break down, sometimes don’t even arrive at all,” Mkondo said.
This comes after eThekwini Municipality mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said in the State of the City Address media conference that the municipality does not have a contract with Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT).
Unfortunately, the municipal buses were again seen parked at the uMlazi campus recently, while the uMlazi commuters and those from other areas were still reportedly encountering problems with the buses arriving late, sometimes not at all, or always full to capacity, and some breaking down.
The commuters blamed the municipality for their transport woes, saying it continued to use buses meant for them to transport the students. When asked about this, the municipality said these buses do not belong to the City.
“We want to state categorically clear that we have no arrangement with the bus operator to ferry students from tertiary institutions, and therefore the use of the municipal buses to ferry students is irregular, and a violation of the vehicle lease between the bus operator and the municipality.
“Our officials are addressing this breach of lease agreement with the operator … We have also put a plan in place to expedite the improvement of the bus service in uMlazi and other areas.
“To achieve this, the municipality has added 130 buses to its fleet,” Kaunda said.
Kaunda added that the problem of bus breakdowns while operating in uMlazi was another cause for concern.
eThekwini Municipality head of communications, Lindiwe Khuzwayo said: “eThekwini Municipality has a vehicle lease agreement (VLA) with the bus operator for the Durban Transport Bus Service.
“The VLA makes provision for the utilisation of the buses on a ‘special hire’ basis. In terms of the special hire conditions, buses may not be used for special hire at the expense of scheduled trips. The City will launch an investigation into these allegations.”
eThekwini Municipality human settlements and infrastructure portfolio committee chairperson Themba Mvubu said that the transport committee was still investigating the matter and the eThekwini Transport Authority head would provide an update once the report had been finalised.
A request for comment was sent to MUT last week and a reminder was sent on Monday, but they had not responded by the time of publication.
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