Putco bus fare increase will cripple the people of KwaNdebele

Cllr Joseph Sibanyoni

DA constituency chairperson in Thembisile Hani local municipality:

The DA in Thembisile Hani municipality wants government to carry the proposed 20% bus fare increase in KwaNdebele until the Moloto Rail Corridor is up and running.

Putco bus services, which operates on the Moloto route between Mpumalanga and Gauteng, is currently holding public consultation processes where they are proposing a 20% bus fare increase.

Currently, residents of Kgobokwane in Dr. JS Moroka local municipality, pay R1 029 a month for a bus ticket to get to Pretoria where the majority of them work, while those in Kwaggafontein at Thembisile Hani local municipality pay R880 a month. Some of these people earn as little as R1 900 per month. The proposed 20% bus fare increase means that they will have to pay between R180 to R210 extra per month.

The DA opposes the increase and proposes that-should it be implemented, Government must be the one responsible to pay due to the delay of the Moloto rail way line. This increase has come to the point where the commuters simply cannot afford to pay higher tariffs. The government must carry this increase until the project of Moloto rail way line is completed.

The Moloto rail corridor project is supposed to see the phased implementation of the 140-kilometre rail link from KwaNdebele to Gauteng, in order to reduce traffic pressures along the notorious R537 Moloto Road, which has claimed too many lives.

Following a detailed feasibility study conducted jointly by the Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo provincial governments as well as the National Treasury and Department of Transport in 2008, Cabinet approved, in principle, that it should be implemented. But since then, the project has been delayed.

Using financial constraints as an excuse, the ANC-led government has simply failed to invest and implement the project, despite it being rolled out as a priority during election campaigns.

According to the DA, this project, will greatly improve the quality of life of hundreds of thousands residents, who struggle daily to make ends meet in a rural area with very few sustainable job opportunities.

The project would not only provide a viable transport alternative for commuters, but would also provide government with an effective sustainable job creation platform.

The possible spin-offs are immense, as each growth node will see entrepreneurs establishing small and micro enterprises to serve daily needs, creating more jobs, earning more income, and bringing workers closer to home.

We will also ask our DA counterparts in the National Assembly to write a letter to the Minister of Transport on how much the state is subsidizing Putco and the people of KwaNdebele.