Bhisho misses the bus with pupil transport

Msindisi Fengu

THE embattled and costly Eastern Cape pupil transport programme continues to fail pupils, with thousands left stranded each day, according to figures from various sources.

This is despite Bhisho pumping millions of rands into the programme.

One example is the Mthatha district’s KwaNobuhle High School, which reopened on January 15, but whose 190 pupils started the year by having to walk more than 12km to school.

Bhisho also faces a legal battle over the service, as Trackstar Trading 256, which trades as MthaWethemba, lodged a challenge in the Grahamstown High Court last year against a decision by the Transport Department not to award it the multimillion-rand contract to ferry pupils.

Instead of awarding a new contract, the department extended an existing contract with the Eastern Cape Bus and Taxi Business Chamber Consortium (ECBTBC) One Future Development 46.

Meanwhile, KwaNobuhle High School principal Vuyani Mdluli said pupils, aged 16 to 21, travelled between 12km and 46km to get to school.

Mdluli said only 77 pupils were being transported and then only from January 20 after he reported pupils had not been ferried for five days.

According to policy, pupils travelling more than 5km should be ferried to school.

Contacted over claims that 19 routes had been cut and that the Education Department had paid R10-million to the Transport Department, Eastern Cape transport spokesman Ncedo Kumbaca declined to comment. But he disputed claims that the department had received R10-million in funding from its education counterpart.

Kumbaca said an amount of R336-million had been allocated for the current financial year to benefit 54471 pupils.

ECBTBC spokesman Ntsizakalo Ngalo said 48000 pupils had been transported since the beginning of the year despite the contract specifying 55000.

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