Hammanskraal commuters disappointed with bus services
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Pretoria - It is really unacceptable that commuters get a raw deal from bus services whose companies receive millions in subsidies from the government, said MEC for Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo.
He was reacting to a meeting he had with Hammanskraal commuters who said they were grossly disappointed by the NorthWest Transport Investments that receives between R50 and R60 million a month from the Gauteng government.
The community on the edge of Tshwane – and some areas falling in Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga – complained that they worked as far away as Midrand and found themselves stranded when bus drivers took them to work and then suddenly went on strike over non-payment.
Daniel Mahlangu, who represented commuters at the intense meeting, which was held overnight last week, said the people felt like they were being failed by the Gauteng government because it was spending millions on bus companies.
They spent about R1 900 on tickets just to often end up stranded far from their homes, said Mahlangu, who added: “Commuters here call Thursday ‘Trauma Day’ because anything can happen on Thursdays. You can wait for a bus and it doesn’t pitch, or you can be taken to work and not be fetched.
“The drivers get paid on Thursdays, so some people believe they wait until they are paid and then strike, and in the process we are left helpless for several days until their disputes with their employer is settled.
“Back in the day we used to hear from the unions that there would be a protest by the employees of the bus companies and we could prepare for that, but lately we just find ourselves stranded.”
Mamabolo admitted that the Gauteng government should have done a thorough assessment of the North West company because the company was already under liquidation when it was appointed to transport people.
Recent strikes had indicated that it struggled to do the job it was hired to do.
The Gauteng government did not have power over the operations of the North West government company, but had hired MTM Management Services and Ranti and Associates in Gauteng to provide technology monitoring services of the bus companies receiving subsidies from the government.
Musa Mashaba, who is responsible for North West bus contracts in the Gauteng government, said commuters believed it would be best if the company had more buses instead of trying to increase the number of shifts, but he could not say how many buses these companies had because they could just exaggerate the figure.
To know the exact number of buses from the companies under the NorthWest Transport Investments, the government relied on the monitoring companies, which Mamabolo immediately tasked to compile a report and submit to his depart by Friday so he could take it to a meeting with his counterpart in the North West, Sello Lehari, to raise issues of non-performance.
Mamabolo said: "We are going to engage with the North West government to look at this issue of the NorthWest Transport Investments so that it can provide proper service to the people once and for all. If there are challenges and this company does not have the capacity to deal with that we will have to look into that.
"It is unacceptable that the NorthWest Transport Investments gives the commuters and taxpayers a raw deal when they are fully paid what they have asked from us as the Gauteng government to provide quality services to the commuters."
Contract manager for MTM Management Services Katlego Segage said they would put together the report which would also detail incidents around the notable strikes that took place in May and June last year, and in February and May this year.
The stakeholders agreed to again meet Mamabolo on May 28 after his meeting with his North West counterpart, Lehari. He could not tell Pretoria News what he would say to Lehari because he did not want the other MEC finding out the content of their meetings in the media before they actually met. He was not happy with the service his people were receiving from the North West government company, he said.
Mamabolo's department returned to treasury more than R700 million at the end of the financial year, money which the department promised commuters it would see how it could be used to ensure that bus service companies have enough capacity to provide more buses to communities like Hammanskraal, who rely on them.