Bus blues prolonged

Commuters queue to get a Kapteinsklip bus at Cape Town bus terminus after 5pm.

Mitchell’s Plain commuters want the N2 Express MyCiTi buses back on the road for a more convenient, faster and safer journey to and from the city centre.

They spoke to the Plainsman on Monday October 7, more than three months afte the City of Cape Town suspended the route after the Joint Venture Company (JVC), including Route 6 Taxi Association, Cape Organisation of Democratic Taxi Association (CODETA) and the Golden Arrow Bus Service (GABS) contract ended on May 31.

GABS now operates the four N2 Express routes while the City appoints a permanent vehicle operating company. This includes two Mitchell’s Plain routes, from Kapteinsklip station and the Mitchell’s Plain transport interchange to the Cape Town CBD, as well as two routes from Khayelitsha.

Soraya Abrahams, 37, from Tafelsig, said she preferred the MyCiTi service.

“I would love for it to be back en route as it drops me off in front of my house”.

She said the hour-long bus trip, instead of two, made a difference in her household.

“I can do homework with the children or cook a meal.”

Nabowea Eksteen, 54, from Lentegeur, who works weekends, said there used to be a MyCiTi bus every hour, which she could use to get home instead of waiting for up to two hours for a Golden Arrow bus.

Henry “Hawk” Williams, chairman of the Route 6 Taxi Association, said by agreement with GABS they were prepared to resume the operation.

“We have co-operated fully in all attempts to restore the N2 Express service. It is our view that the Joint Venture could have continued to operate the service as we were not aggrieved in any way as a shareholder.”

He said they continued to be negatively affected by the suspension of services and were saddened that they were largely ignored as a JV minibus taxi operator shareholder with a different view to that of Codeta.

Mayoral committee member for transport, Felicity Purchase, said the City had left no stone unturned to conclude a new agreement with the company.

“We have hosted a number of engagements with the shareholders in an effort to resolve the matter,” she said.

On Tuesday August 27, the City notified the JVC shareholders that they needed to submit a letter to the City by mid-September, indicating that they had resolved their internal disagreements.

They had also given them a deadline for the service to be reinstated by September 28.

“Unfortunately, the shareholders failed to meet the City’s deadline to submit an internal agreement that would see the service operating again; and on September 19, the National Department of Transport hosted an urgent meeting with the shareholders which also failed to yield a positive outcome,” said Ms Purchase.

She confirmed re-
ceipt of a letter from GABS and Route 6 Taxi Association that they were willing to resume the service.

However,Codeta was insisting on a new arrangement.

“The City remains open to the continuous engagement with the shareholders in order to find a joint solution to resume the N2 Express service as soon as possible,” she said.

National Department of Transport spokesman Esethu Hasane said they were involved in mediating between all parties involved.

“The process is in-
clusive and takes the interests of everyone on board. There are no excluded stakeholders,” he said.

In a statement dated Friday September 27, Codeta attorney Barnabas Xulu, said Ms Purchase’s statement regarding the City seeking an interim operator for the N2 Express service, just the day before, was premature.

He said she had vilified Codeta, “for what she termed ‘effectively scuppering the joint venture’”.

Mr Xulu said: “The City, Mayor Dan Plato, representatives from the National Department of Transport and Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela alike have publicly acknowledged the irregularities which persisted under the N2 Express contract, and yet the City as the transport authority seeks to perpetuate the same irregularities over another interim
term.”

He said the “little disagreement amongst shareholders” was no petty squabble as the City would want the public to believe.

“There are serious allegations that have been made against certain parties and matters of fraud and corruption have been reported to the relevant law enforcement agencies,” reads the statement.

It further claimed that the Head of Serious Commercial Crime at the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation had confirmed receipt of the matter and have already furnished Codeta with the relevant case numbers therein.

Mr Xulu said in addition to the allegations of misconduct there were serious irregularities and governance problems under the N2 express, chief among which was the dominance of GABS, and their monopoly over all processes associated with the N2 Express.

Mr Xulu said the request for quotations now confirmed their initial assertion that the City sought to muscle out the underprivileged and disempowered minibus taxi operators who were the rightful and directly affected operators in favour of a century old, and untransformed bus company.

He said they resisted the best intentions of the The National Land Transport Act 5 of 2009 (NLTA), which regulated and monitored the transportation of public passengers for reward.

“This seeks to integrate and empower the previously disadvantaged and equip them to run an effective public transport system. In addition, Ms Purchase consistently fails to cite which provisions under the NLTA empower the City to make the decision that have brought us to this juncture, and further that allow for the City to put the operation of the N2 Express to tender,” he said.

The Plainsman did approach GABS for comment but they did not send a formal response by the time of going to print.

The Plainsman sent questions to GABS but they had not responded by the time the paper went to print.