Mpuma scholar transport suspended

2014-10-16 13:21

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Johannesburg - Mpumalanga's scholar transport association has suspended its operations and will not be ferrying pupils to schools because the education department allegedly owes it R400m.

"We suspended operations. We put our buses in the depot and we are staying at home. But I want to make clear that we are not on strike and we are not associated with any demonstration," the association's spokesperson Koos Nkosi told Sapa on Thursday.

"We can't afford to send our buses for services, we can't pay for fuel, and we can't pay our staff."

He said the department owed it R400m, which had escalated since 2006.

The association consisted of around 400 bus owners, each owning a varying number of buses, and each bus transporting 65 pupils to school.

Nkosi said the suspension of operations affected thousands of school pupils across the province.

"They [the department] have always been showering us with promises. We were told that the money was budgeted for to pay the debt, but we are left in the dark as to why we are not paid," he said.

A meeting was held on 9 September with department officials and Nkosi was told they were waiting for a report from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) before payment could be made.

"They verified the amount and the reasons they gave to us in the last meeting was that they are waiting for a report from the SIU after a commission was set up to deal with alleged corruption in the department of education."

He said the commission was established in 2012 by the previous premier to deal with corruption.

The association suspended its operations at the end of September, and the suspension was in its third week.

Provincial education department spokesperson Jasper Zwane referred queries to David Nkambule, spokesperson for the public works and transport department.

Nkambule could not immediately be reached for comment.

Read more on:    siu  |  mbombela  |  education

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