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Monday Jan 19, 2015

Durban must 'act to save bus service'

Opposition parties say urgent action needs to be taken by city leaders to prevent Durban's bus service grinding to a halt.

They support the proposal for the municipality to run the bus service like uShaka Marine World and the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre are operated.

While problems at Tansnat Durban, which runs the bus service for the eThekwini Municipality, have been ongoing, new concerns came to light this week. The company is owned by Mandla Gcaba, a nephew of Jacob Zuma.

The municipality is currently applying for Tansnat Durban to be liquidated.

It has also been reported that the municipality has allegedly accused Gcaba of taking an unsecured loan from the business of R30.7 million. The city further alleges that the company has no current financial statements.

Past problems include buses running out of diesel and their bus drivers going on strike.

DA executive committee member Heinz de Boer said the first step was to act quickly and form a municipal entity to run the service. He said the decision (to form an entity) was taken at the last exco meeting.

"Until we get that sorted out, the company will continue to run the service. Once the entity is established, adequate contracts should be given to different companies.

"We believe that the service should be split into the various regions, so if one operator is having a problem, the entire city is not brought to a standstill," said De Boer.

He said that while exco was supposed to provide an oversight role, they couldn't as they received no regular updates on the bus service.

"The city owns the buses. We should not have outsourced the operating of the buses. We need to start looking at the best way of providing public transport, as the public are the ones suffering."

IFP exco member Mdu Nkosi said the party was against selling the buses to Remant Alton and outsourcing the service.

"ANC leaders are powerdrunk and didn't listen to us. A bus service should be managed under the city.

"We support the proposal to run the bus service as an entity. If it is our baby and there are any problems, we will sort it out quickly."

He said millions of taxpayers' money was used (to bail out the company), with no profit made.

Lilian Develing from the Combined Ratepayers' Association said ratepayers' money had been wasted.

"Ratepayers are finding it difficult to pay their rates, given all the other increases, including electricity, and the city is handing out millions at a time. If they resort to taking out loans, it puts future ratepayers in debt later on.

"City leadership needs to make a definitive decision - one that is in the best interests of the public and ratepayers."

John Wilkinson, the general manager of Tansnat, said the urgent court application by the council had been postponed "indefinitely". He said it is now business as usual.

"Apart from diesel and salary woes, we have run the service efficiently."

City spokeswoman Tozi Mthethwa did not respond to detailed questions.

Sunday Tribune


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