Time for City to come clean

2018-10-30 06:00

It is time for the City [of Cape Town] to come clean and tell us exactly what is happening with the electric buses it has on order and other problems relating to the purchase of new bus chassis.

We know that these deals have been investigated by the Hawks and Council’s own forensic experts.

We also know that there are supposed to be disciplinary proceedings against the council Commissioner of the Transport and Urban Development Authority, Melissa Whitehead, but we have no idea of the outcomes. All these investigations and legal fees must be costing a small fortune. Ms Whitehead, for instance, receives a salary of more than R3m a year or R274 000 a month, and she has been suspended since January. How can the City afford to pay these staggering amounts to a person who is not working?

There are also further questions that require answers. We know that the City accepted a tender for ten 12-metre electric busses made by the Chinese firm BYD. The buses, according to a City Council media release, were supposed to be in operation by June last year.

We know that at the time each bus cost between R4.8m and R7.1m on the international market.

The initial reports on the deal quoted a price of R126m for ten buses. That is R12.6m per bus, but that is likely to include spares, battery charging stations and other equipment. It still seems very expensive and costs could escalate before the buses actually give us any sort of return on the investment. In addition, the value of the rand has declined and other reports say the contract could now be worth R300m.

So where are we? When will the buses be on the streets and how much will they finally cost?

Janine Myburgh, president of the Cape chamber of commerce and industry

The City of Cape Town’s Luthando Tyhalibongo responds: We can only take delivery of the buses on conclusion of the current ongoing investigation, and pending the outcome thereof. The investigation is expected to be finalised before the end of the year. The Council-approved disciplinary process of Melissa Whitehead is ongoing. As with all Council approved investigations, this process is independent and must be permitted to run its course.

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