Pupil transport again hit by tender dispute

EASTERN Cape taxi and bus associations have distanced themselves from a legal battle between the Uncedo Taxi Association and the provincial Transport Department over the multimillion-rand pupil transport tender.

In a meeting with Transport MEC Weziwe Tikana on Wednesday, the Eastern Cape Bus Council and the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) came out in support of the department.

Bus council deputy chairman Bixie Mkutu said it was time for the department to get rid of third parties.

“The priority is children, hence we came [out] in support of government’s move to use individuals to transport school kids.

“It’s surprising to see other faces not supporting this because it’s the same system that the Education Department used before it was given to the Transport Department. There is no time for third parties now. The MEC is doing the right thing,” he said.

This comes after Uncedo was on Tuesday granted an interim interdict preventing the provincial Transport Department from continuing with its pupil transport tender.

Uncedo approached the East London High Court to stop the department from awarding the lucrative tender to transport more than 57000 Eastern Cape pupils.

East London High Court Judge Justice van Zyl ordered that, pending a hearing on Tuesday, Tikana and Education MEC Mandla Makupula refrain from proceeding with or implementing the programme.
Van Zyl further ruled that Tikana should re-advertise the tender.

Transport spokesman Ncedo Kumbaca confirmed the department had received the interim interdict and said they would contest it.

Santaco’s Noluntu Mahashe said Tikana has been engaging with them about the issue since last year.

“The MEC has told us they are running out of time as the schools will re-open soon, hence the individuals have been called to submit [tenders]. We are told that this is an interim move and maybe by June, cooperatives will be used to ferry school kids.”

Mahashe said many of their people from areas like Willowvale, Dutywa and some areas in Nelson Mandela Bay had, however, not been able to submit their tender documents.

“These are just challenges we are facing, hoping that they will be given time to submit.” She attributed the delays to court orders.

Eastern Cape Tertiary Transport Co- operative chief executive Nokuthula Mbebe said they would only support the programme when the department accepted the use of co-operatives.

–   Mphumzi Zuzile and Bongani Fuzile

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