Fikile Mbalula unveils 210 buses for townships north of Tshwane
He jocularly took a poke at his predecessors, Dr Blade Nzimande, Dipuo Peters and Joe Maswanganyi, saying “Mbalula is here to work”.
“I will change these buses woes. I don’t know what my predecessors did, but that nonsense of commuters being abused stops with me,” he said.
About 60 buses were unveiled to replace the North West Bus Company, which operated in Hammanskraal, Mabopane and Atteridgeville.
The fleet unveiled at Saulsville Arena in Atteridgeville was procured from local bus companies. “It's all about uplifting the local economy. People here are fully capable of providing buses, which remain parked with no business,” he said.
Mbalula promised to have all the buses on routes by the end of next week.
Hammanskraal Interim Transport Task Team spokesperson Simon Sephokgole, who had previously threatened to disrupt the economy by blocking the N1 and R101, was in better spirits yesterday.
He welcomed the new buses, saying this was the first time in 10 years that the government had shown it cared.
“Our people need to travel in dignity and that dream is becoming true,” he said.
Mbalula's long-term goal includes an open tender for the bus service. He said the North West Bus services tender would not be renewed when it expired in April 2020.
Last week, at a meeting in Hammanskraal, community members told Mbalula they were also expected to contribute to toll fees and buy diesel daily. Commuters said the buses often broke down, which meant passengers were late for work. Overcrowding was another problem.
Commuters had already called for the termination of the contract between Starline bus operator North West Transport Investment and the Gauteng provincial government.