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'Pace of IPTS buses roll out has nothing to do with motion against me' Trollip

By Afikile Lugunya - Mar 26, 2018
'Pace of IPTS buses roll out has nothing to do with motion against me' Trollip

Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, on Monday said that the pace at which the Metro's previously stagnant Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) has been rolled out has nothing to do with him trying to retain his position as Mayor ahead of a motion of no confidence against him on Thursday.

Trollip was accompanied by Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Transport, Cllr Rano Kayser, and the CEO of Spectrum Alert, the company contracted to operate the IPTS buses, Chris King.

The rollout of the buses also called Libhongolethu, and the opening of the newly-constructed bus depot in Cleary Park was welcomed with excitement by local students.

Special provision has been made for pensioners and students, in the form of a 20% discount. However, students will qualify for a discount only if they can produce their student cards. Members of the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) and Metro Police will get a free pass to ensure there is constant security on the bus. 

The buses will roll out of the depot at 5 am on Tuesday, from Cleary Park to the CBD, and commuters will receive two weeks' free tickets to ascertain if the route covered and time schedule fit their travelling itinerary.

A Port Elizabeth College final year student, Siphosethu Mani, who is wheelchair-bound, said that from now on he will be able to travel back and forth as he pleases - and it’s all thanks to the launch of the IPTS buses.

“I used to struggle a lot when we didn’t have these buses; but if this works out, and then our lives will be easy," he said.

“It is also cheaper for us because we only pay half price paid by the able-bodied people.”

However, the buses seemingly have not been received with joy from all sectors of society as angry taxi drivers blocked off the route that will be used by the IPTS buses along Stanford Road with burning tyres and were involved in sporadic battles with Public Order Police.

Addressing the media at City Hall, Trollip said he had put pressure on Cllr Kayser to make sure the IPTS buses get on the road as soon as possible - and even threatened to fire him a few times.

He said Kayser worked hard to ensure the launch of the IPTS buses, which had been sitting in storage for the past eight years.

The Mayor also denied the quickened pace at which the IPTS was launched had anything to do with the motion of no confidence that he will face on Thursday.

“Those people, who are saying that we are launching the IPTS bus system as a motive to ensure that I keep my position it’s a figment of their imagination,” he said.

“We have been working on the deadlines of the IPTS since the day we became a government. We’ve put in so much work into this long before the motion of no confidence came about.

“We are busy with running the City - come shallow water, we will do that until the last minute if possible."

Trollip said that Monday marked an important milestone for Nelson Mandela Bay with the official launch of the IPTS.

"This ends a decade of maladministration, corruption and fraud by our predecessors, which had prevented the buses from rolling. Residents will no longer be deprived of safe and affordable public transport, with this coalition government has delivered on its promise to launch the previously beleaguered IPTS," he added.

A maiden trip from Cleary Park to the Govan Mbeki Avenue CBD on Monday morning proceeded smoothly.

"The IPTS is a national government legacy project which was conceptualised before the 2010 Soccer World Cup to ensure that host cities had world-class transport systems. However, over the years, millions of rands pumped into the project to get it off the ground were unaccounted for due to maladministration," the Mayor said.

"In 2016, the fleet was left in a state of ruin in a storage facility in Markman, where vandals broke the windows and tires were either cracked or totally damaged due to being exposed to the elements.

"To ensure the safety of this investment, the Municipality recently completed building a depot in Cleary Park where all the buses are now safely secured. We will soon build shelters in the depot to prevent the fleet from any damage as a result of bad elements.

"As part of our commitment to this administration, we have since revitalised the entire fleet and all the buses are now roadworthy. As such, we have handed them over to the service provider to begin the process of rolling them out for the benefit of our City." 

Trollip said that once the contracts with taxi operators and any glitches have been addressed and the system is up and running, the buses will be rolled out along other routes, such as Njoli, Motherwell and Uitenhage.

"We would like to reiterate that this transport system belongs to Metro residents and we encourage people to safeguard this investment against vandalism.

"The launch of this project also ensures that the administration delivers on its promise of creating jobs through building a new industry. This is being fulfilled through the employment of taxi drivers, who are now part of the operation, including conductors, who now man the ticketing system," he said.

Responding to the protest by taxi drivers, Kayser said that they had engaged stakeholders and the taxi industry in the Northern Areas over the rollout of the IPTS buses. It is unfortunate that it is impossible to please everyone.