By Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works:
Earlier this afternoon, 19 August 2019, I received reports that 5 Go George buses had been set alight in George. It is alleged that disgruntled taxi operators are behind these acts of arson, following reports of stoning of buses earlier on in the day.
I condemn these acts in the strongest terms. Such criminal acts not only threaten the provision of safe and reliable public transport to the people of George, but also threaten the safety of these commuters. Those responsible must face the full might of the law, and we will provide the necessary support to the South African Police Service (SAPS) to ensure that this happens. Provincial traffic officials are currently in George at the affected areas assisting to restore calm.
Over the past 9 years, the Western Cape Government has, been working in close partnership with the National Department of Transport, the George Municipality, the George minibus taxi and bus industry, as well as the people of George to develop a public transport system that will see George transformed. The George Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) has been a project spearheaded by the Department of Transport and Public Works and has been years in the making. It is South Africa’s first non-metro integrated public transport system and has been adopted as the pilot project for the future roll out of other IPTNs outside of large cities. Go George will offer George commuters affordable, scheduled, safe and reliable services, contributing to improved quality of life and much better access to opportunities. Existing industry operators will be incorporated into the new system as owners of a new company called George Link.
The GIPTN is shifting from the implementation to the operations stage with the first 3 of 6 phases being implemented.
The Department of Transport and Public Works and the George Municipality have been open to engagement with all affected parties, and have responded fully to a memorandum delivered previously by taxi operators.
Go George has been forced to temporarily suspend its service as a result of criminal acts aimed at disrupting progress on the rolling out of the service.
We will not be held ransom by a group of criminals, and will forge ahead with the provision of safe and reliable public transport to the people of George.