Omalume ‘unaware of ban’

2017-05-11 14:30
Bakkie drivers say they will keep transporting pupils.

Bakkie drivers say they will keep transporting pupils. (Ian Carbutt/File)

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“Ban, what ban?”

Drivers referred to as omalume (“uncles”, the name for scholar transport drivers), who transport children to and from schools in Pietermaritzburg in the back of bakkies, said they were unaware that they could not do this from Thursday.

The law amendment makes it illegal to transport school children for reward (paying a driver) in the goods compartment of any vehicle.

The amendments, which were announced by the national Department of Transport late last year, were made to curb persistent crashes involving bakkies, which have claimed many lives.

In Imbali township in 2015, a bakkie carrying school children crashed into a house, claiming the lives of seven pupils.

KZN Scholar Transport Association spokesperson Jabulani Dladla said omalume would continue to transport pupils on the back of bakkies.

“We are not against what the government is doing. [If we cannot use our bakkies] the government should help us buy cars so that we will be able to comply with the regulations,” he said.

Dladla said most of the omalume could not afford minibus taxis, and were still paying instalments on their bakkies.

He also complained that those who have minibuses and who had applied for permits as per the new regulations, had not yet received their permits.

Mfana Goge, who transports pupils from Caluza to the CBD and the northern areas, said he was not aware of the new regulations preventing him from transporting pupils in his minibus taxi without a permit from Thursday.

“How do we get those permits in such a short space of time? They should have given us enough time to apply for those permits. They should have told us where to go.

“I am not opposed to the idea because it will help solve the fights over routes but it should be done correctly. Tomorrow [Thursday] I will be transporting pupils, I have no choice,” he said.

Sihle Ndlovu, who transports pupils from Elandskop, said he was bound to turn up for work because there was no alternative plan made to transport the children.

“They do not have any means to get to school. Government should have given us enough time to get those permits.

“We have applied for the permits but there are delays, so there is nothing we can do,” he said.

KZN Transport spokesperson Nathi Sukazi said it normally takes about three months to apply for a permit.

He said omalume knew about the processes that they needed to follow and they were aware that the bakkie ban would come into effect on Thursday.

Sukazi said the department called on KZN traffic officers and municipal traffic officers to enforce the amendment.

He admitted that the demand for scholar transport in the province “far exceeded the available resources”.

The provincial government, through scholar transport, had increased this service to needy pupils, he said.

In 2015, the department said it would need R4,5 billion to provide safe scholar transport to all needy pupils in the province.

Asked whether the department was not worried about pupils left stranded due to the new law coming to effect, Sukazi said safety of the pupils was “paramount”.

Also read: ‘Buses are too costly’
Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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