PLC marchers protest bus shortage

2010-03-18 00:00

PUBLIC liaison committee (PLC) members from parts of Vulindlela marched to the Sizanani Mazulu Transport (SMT) office in Sobantu yesterday, complaining of a shortage of buses in the area.

They said the buses arrive late to pick them up for work or do not stop at all because there are not enough buses to take them at the requested times.

The chairman of PLCs in the area, Sipho Dube, said they have been sending requests for extra buses to the Transport Department for the past 15 years. “There are times when community members are in desperate need of buses, but [the buses]are either not available or take too long to arrive. This problem has even resulted in deaths as some people have resorted to leaning on doors when buses are full. Despite having coupons, some people have to carry extra cash in cases when the buses do not arrive.”

He said that there is also a policy of “one bus, one driver”, which causes problems when the driver is not available, because there is no one to replace him.

“We need an urgent intervention as many people in these areas depend on buses. Some people have even left their homes in order to be closer to their areas of employment,” Dube said.

The manager of SMT in Pietermaritzburg, Johan van Rensburg, said that as much as the company is willing to add buses, it first needs an instruction from the Transport Department.

“We once tried adding extra buses in the area, but on the first day of their operation, they were blocked by taxis … as they were complaining that [the buses] were taking their customers.”

Van Rensburg said the department has not renewed SMT’s contract, which is supposed to end this year.

“We cannot invest in something that will in turn become a loss to us,” he said.

He dismissed talk of a “one bus, one driver” policy, saying there are 79 buses deployed in the area and one stand-by driver to assist in emergencies.

Attempts to get comment from the department were unsuccessful at the time of going to print.

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