By Justus de Goede MPL, DA Gauteng spokesperson on transport:
Stranded commuters in Mamelodi have been put on the back foot by the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport (GDRT) and the City of Tshwane (CoT) who failed to adequately provide viable cost-effective alternative public transport ahead of the closure of several PUTCO services.
An already dilapidated and defunct CoT bus service is not in a position to carry the load previously serviced by PUTCO, it can hardly service its existing routes.
GDRT’s commitment to using Autopax as an alternative to PUTCO is a stopgap move too late. The R18 million budget, as announced by GRDT MEC, Ismail Vadi, will not be adequate to maintain a long term contract.
It has also been alleged by some commuters who made use of the service this morning that the new Autopax fare is dramatically higher than that of PUTCO.
In a puzzling announcement made by the CoT that it is negotiating with another bus operator to take over this route, the public can be forgiven for being confused.
Blame must be placed squarely at the feet of GDRT and CoT.
Both these entities have worked in silos and it is clear this action is now playing havoc with the lives of commuters.
In a contracting and receding economy, job security is critical. Many of these commuters are already at a disadvantage as a result of Apartheid spatial planning and the last thing they can afford is to be made jobless as a result of tardy government services.
The DA has on numerous occasions warned MEC Vadi’s department that this issue would negatively impact the lives of commuters and the economy of Gauteng. Despite this, Province has failed to heed these warnings and has jeopardised job security for thousands in the province.
More work needs to be done on an intergovernmental level to ensure that residents across Gauteng, particularly those in economically excluded areas such as Mamelodi are provided with quality services to ensure greater prosperity.