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Friday Nov 16, 2012

Bus service decision looms for eThekwini

A decision on the eThekwini Municipality bus service is expected to be taken at the end of the month by the city's executive committee.

City manager Sibusiso Sithole said that the company commissioned to decide on the best option for the city's transport system would table its findings in two weeks.

Speaking at yesterday's executive committee meeting, Sithole said the city's decision on whether to operate Durban's transport service as a council unit, a trading service or a municipal entity would be guided by the findings from Pegasys Strategy and Development.

The municipality is paying Pegasys more than R1 million to determine the appropriate option for Durban transport, looking at feasibility, funding and financial implications.

It is also investigating how other cities operate their transport systems.

Sithole said yesterday that a decision on the best model for Durban would be made after the final presentation from the company.

"We will decide on whether to go with an internal or external route. Depending on the findings, we might also go with both routes," he said.

Asked by DA caucus leader Tex Collins about how certain he was that the report would be completed in two weeks' time, Sithole said he was optimistic and confident that it would be available.

Thami Manyathi, of the eThekwini Transport Authority, said that Pegasys would meet the deadline because it had completed its work.

Durban's public transport has been a shambles since Remant Alton - which took over in 2003 - pulled out in 2009, citing financial difficulties.

The company was replaced by Tansnat Africa, whose contract was declared illegal by a court later in 2009.

The contract has since been renewed on a month-by-month basis.

In April, Sithole said that irregular expenditure of R300m had been incurred by the council under this contract since December 2010.

During a full council meeting earlier this year, the city resolved to take over the full bus service, but opposition parties have repeatedly said they will not support this move.

The parties say that for an efficient transport system the bus contract should be awarded to smaller private operators.

It emerged during a presentation by Pegasys in August that the city could lose R180m in public transport subsidies from the provincial government if it decides to take over the service.

Daily News

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