Anthony Benadie MPL
Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga
Mpumalanga’s scholar transport scheme remains in a shambles, with contractors threatening to strike over non-payment, while the Department of Public Works Roads and Transport (DPWRT) are struggling to come to grips with the mandate of this programme.
While transferring the management of scholar transport from the Department of Education to the DPWRT was welcome, it seems to have been a futile exercise.
When considering that the DPWRT planned to monitor 341 scholar transport routes, but is actually monitoring 427 routes, and while only 100 of the planned 111 bus operators have been appointed, and the fact that the actual number of service providers have also been decreased, it is no wonder that the programme is riddled with instability.
Furthermore, government has allowed sub-contracting within the programme, with some middlemen not paying their sub-contractors. This practice not only threatens the continuous delivery of the service, as a strike looms over outstanding payments amounting to R27 million, but effectively inflates the actual cost of delivering the service.
By contracting bus operators directly, government would save the cost of enriching the middleman and service more transport routes.
As a result of the chaos government is delivering scholar transport to 3000 less learners than its original intention.
Judging by all these inefficiencies, it is clear to the DA that the scholar transport scheme continues to be mismanaged and just like the education department, the DPWRT is faltering in its mandate.
The DA believes stability and effective management of scholar transport can only be achieved when this programme is seen for its key contribution to learner education, rather than a lucrative cash cow aimed at enriching a select few.