Transport policy date put back

2015-02-12 00:00

THE deadline to develop a preliminary policy to govern school transport has been extended by six months.

Both the provincial departments of Education and Transport had been ­expected to supply a plan to the provincial executive council yesterday.

The call was made after seven children from Fezokuhle Primary School ­were killed when the bakkie in which they were travelling plunged down an embankment and into a house in Imbali in January.

Department of Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said while they are “working on it [the report]”, meeting the deadline would not possible.

“This is a very technical issue that needs proper consultation widely. The logistical arrangements [to meet the deadline] would have been impossible,” said Mahlambi.

The Witness had reported that there were no laws in place prohibiting the transportation of children on the back of bakkies.

The provincial executive on February 5 called on the provincial departments to present a policy on such transport by ­yesterday.

In a statement, it said the council had resolved that changing from bakkies to a safer mode of transport “must be ­implemented as a matter of urgency”.

A preliminary report on the bakkie ­involved in the horror crash revealed that the brakes on the vehicle “were very poorly maintained”.

DA KZN spokesperson for Transport Rafeek Shah said the short deadline was a “knee jerk reaction”.

“Properly run departments would have been more proactive. This is an old issue.

“Did we need children to die and then react? It is just popular rhetoric. If they [provincial government] were serious then why set such a short deadline. To develop policy you must look at existing policy and see if it must be strengthened,” said Shah.

He said the Transport Department doesn’t have budget to provide ­transport.

“These bakkies have historically ­provided this service. We won’t stop them in the rural areas. We must be more creative.

“We should provide subsidises to the bakkie owners and make them meet ­standards.”

Department of Transport spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane referred all comments to the Office of the Premier.

Numerous attempts, including SMSes, were made to seek comment from the premier’s communication officials but they were not responded to.


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