North West school transport operators fail to collect and drop pupils

Some of the school children who were crammed in a taxi. (Netwerk24)
Some of the school children who were crammed in a taxi. (Netwerk24)

Some North West school transport operators have failed to collect and drop pupils since schools reopened three days ago.

The operators have failed to honour the month-to-month contracts they signed with the province.

Some pupils were not picked up, others were left kilometres from their schools and some buses were found to be unroadworthy and overloaded.  

On Friday, the provincial Department of Community Safety and Transport Management said it had regrettably experienced the glitches since schools reopened.

Department spokesperson Alpheus Koonyaditse said the glitches were encountered during the first three days of the school year.

Koonyaditse added the department was engaging with both service providers and schools to ascertain exactly what happened so that pupils were not affected in the future.

READ | The wheels come off scholar transport as government fails to pay more than R25m

He said it provided transport for 380 out of the 1 485 schools in the province.

"Last year, the department provided this service to approximately 65 200 pupils. The estimation for 2020 is that 64 574 pupils will still benefit from this massive rollout programme. Over 65% of these pupils are in the Bojanala and Ngaka Modiri Molema districts.

"In Bojanala, the department provides transportation to 19 494 pupils at 102 schools. Of these, 18 schools did not experience any challenges, so far. However, 10 experienced hiccups," said Koonyaditse.

He added in some instances, three bus operators failed to pick up pupils and one's buses were impounded for not being roadworthy.

One bus arrived at its designated school but was impounded for overloading.

In the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District, the department provides transport to 11 416 pupils at 80 schools and its monitoring team discovered challenges at about 19 schools.

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Koonyaditse said 9 127 pupils in the Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District benefitted from this intervention.

"Of the schools monitored, 37 didn't experience any challenges, but only three had, while the department is verifying the remaining 53 schools. During the verification process, the department found that the service was provided but pupils where dropped off 2km from the school.

"The Ngaka Modiri Molema District has 133 benefiting schools and this makes it the district with the highest number of pupils, at 4 527, the department provides transport to. At one school, two buses could not cater for all pupils and some had to walk. 

"The other reported incident is that the operator did not pick up primary school pupils but only ferried the high school ones. As a result, the affected pupils had to walk to and from school," said Koonyaditse.

The department has reiterated its commitment of ensuring transport is available to eligible schools to enable pupils to continue with their education without hindrances.

WATCH | Grade R pupil makes a run for it on first day of school

The department's head of department, Botlhale Mofokeng, said some challenges reported were that operators, who signed the month-to-month service level agreement with the department, had ditched the routes they had signed for without informing it.

"The department is verifying all those instances and other reports. We are also engaging other service providers to ameliorate experienced hitches.

"We do acknowledge that all did not go as well as we had planned and to that end, the department is doing all in its powers to ensure that those glitches are addressed and access to education is not compromised," Mofokeng said.

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