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Sell off the IPTS buses and pay back taxpayers: AfriForum Port Elizabeth

Sep 3, 2015
Sell off the IPTS buses and pay back taxpayers: AfriForum Port Elizabeth

AfriForum Port Elizabeth, which has been lobbying for the recovery of millions of Rands that were wasted or disappeared through corruption on the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s failed Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS), says a new proposal to sell off the buses that were bought for the project could be the right course of action.

About 60 buses were acquired in 2009 for R100 million as part of the IPTS, but six years on, the buses are gathering dust outside a fresh produce market in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth. The only time they were seen on the roads was during the 2010 soccer World Cup when the project was being piloted.

“The busses were bought without proper planning - had the doors on the wrong side and are too big and uneconomical comparing to the Cape Town buses,” AfriForum Port Elizabeth Vice Chairperson, Kobus Gerber told RNews.

He said that the running costs of the pilot phase was R53 million and only R1.8 million was collected in ticket sales, which left taxpayers with a loss of R51.2 million.

“Sell the buses and hand the money back to National Treasury,” he said.

Gerber said that the project has seen the Taxi Association “milking the IPTS fund from day one”.

“They received millions from the National funds, and still do, which means that this failed project has just enriched the Taxi Association instead of becoming a solution to commuters. It has also become a nightmare to the infrastructure of the Metro. The once heart of the motor industry were ripped apart and moved up to William Moffett leaving inventors with empty properties.”

In April this year, members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), who were on an oversight visit to the Metro, were shocked to find that the buses were still not back on the road and demanded that city bosses, the provincial Department of Transport and all project managers be summoned to Parliament to explain the mess.

Litho Suka, Chairperson of the Select Committee on Economic Development and Small Business, then said the matter of the unused buses was “a crisis” and needed an urgent solution.

“This crisis cannot continue unabated. The buses have not been used since 2010. Public transportation is central to accessing economic opportunities for the people. These buses cost the government a lot of money and should be connecting people to the economic centres,” he said.

Gerber said that after the buses are sold off and the money recovered, studies can be conducted to enhance public transport services rendered by taxi’s and other bus services.

DA opposed to sell-off, wants buses integrated with taxi’s

However, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality this week said that they will seek to prevent last week's proposal to sell off the buses at the 11th hour.

"The DA will now table a motion to integrate the taxi services with all IPTS bus operations, as has been successfully done by the DA-governed City of Cape Town. This motion will set out the need for taxi operators to manage the licensing of all associated vehicles as opposed to this being the driver’s responsibility.

"This gives the operating companies holistic oversight capacity and also incentivizes efficient operations," DA Nelson Mandela Bay caucus leader, Retief Odendaal, said in a statement.