File photo: ANA

Cape Town - As thousands of matric pupils began writing the 2018 National Senior Certificate examinations this week, there was concern over how Metrorail's poor service, as well as the MyCiTi strike in Cape Town, would affect them getting to the exam venues on time.

According to exam rules, "candidates may be admitted into an examination room provided they arrive within one hour of the exam starting - however, a learner arriving within the one-hour period will still have to complete the exam by the same time as other candidates. ie. if there is a 3-hour exam and a candidate arrives 30 minutes late, then the candidate will have only 2 and half hours to complete the examination".

A candidate arriving later than one hour will not be allowed to write the examination at all and will have to make use of the supplementary examinations next year in June.

On Tuesday, Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape MEC of Education, and Donald Grant, MEC of Transport and Public Works, appealed to Metrorail and taxi associations to assist with transport for the NSC exams.

"With ongoing reports of Metrorail trains being delayed, cancelled or set alight, it is a concern that there is a possibility that some matric candidates will not reach their examination venues on time.

"We, as the Ministers for Transport and Public Works and Education, have discussed these concerns and appeal to all public transport operators to assist us in ensuring that candidates get to their exam centres on time.

"We sincerely hope that we will have their support, and the support of other road users and communities, during this very important time for our matric learners."

Schafer added: "I encourage our matric candidates to be mindful of the fact that public transport can be unreliable and to ensure that they leave home earlier so as to make up for any possible delays. Rather be at the venue early than risk being late."

"For information on all public transport, commuters can call the Transport for Cape Town Information Centre on 0800 65 64 63 (Toll-free from a landline) where trained consultants will assist. This is a 24-hour call centre. They can also contact www.capemetrorail.co.za or www.gometro.mobi or on Twitter @CapeTownTrains for train schedules and updates," said Grant.

Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott encouraged pupils to take into account the prevailing frequencies of trains and running times in order to arrive in good time for their examinations. 

"Learners are advised to consult social media passenger information channels @CapeTownTrains for any changes and updates," Scott said.

"Our employees have been briefed to assist learners at stations in the event of major delays and both ministries will be also be alerted. We call on all other transport operators to assist during contingencies to ensure candidates are transported to examination centres should the need arise.

"Despite our challenges we will do our utmost to ensure that trains operate, that technicians expedite repairs and that we communicate soonest in case of delays," Scott said.