Learner transport a ticking time bomb
by Melinda Hattingh MPL – DA Northern Cape Spokesperson of Transport, Safety & Liaison
Date: 15 May 2017
Type: Press Statement
The DA is calling on newly appointed MEC of Transport, Safety & Liaison, Alexandra Beukes, to urgently direct her attention to the brewing learner transport crisis in the Northern Cape.
The entire learner transport system in the province is on the verge of collapse. This comes after the Departments of Transport and Education failed to iron out a myriad of challenges in the provision of learner transport, not least of all the tariff structure for service providers.
The Department of Transport claims to fall short of approximately R100 million and is currently underpaying service providers who are transporting approximately 25 000 learners to and from school each day. As a direct result, some service providers are only transporting learners for four days, or less, per week. At the same time, the tariff structure attracts lower quality service providers, whose vehicles are often not roadworthy.
The Department’s unsuccessful management of learner transport directly threatens learners’ rights to a quality education and also places them in danger on the province’s roads.
Challenges in learner transport in the Northern Cape are not new.
Learner transport has become somewhat of a ping-pong ball between departments, whereby no single department wants to accept full responsibility for getting thousands of learners, who are dependent on the state for transport, to school each day.
In March this year, the learner transport matter was referred to as a “crisis” by former MEC Pauline Williams. The legislature portfolio committee committed itself to convening an urgent meeting with both the Departments of Transport and Education in order to try and address the ticking time bomb before it explodes. It is now seven weeks later and still the matter is being ignored.
The DA cannot sit by idly while learners’ run the risk of having their schooling interrupted.
We have today written to MEC Beukes, asking her to prioritise the matter. We have also written to the legislature committee chairperson, Gladys Oliphant, asking her to convene an urgent meeting with the respective departments.
There are already too many young people without an education, without skills and without an income – we cannot allow yet another generation to lose out on a bright future because of this government’s indifference towards the young people of the Northern Cape.
Melinda Hattingh MPL
DA Northern Cape Spokesperson of Transport, Safety & Liaison
082 494 6648
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387