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Buy-back of eThekwini buses disappointing - IFP

By unknown | Oct 01, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

IFP KwaZulu-Natal spokesman on transport Sipho Mbatha yesterday expressed "disappointment at the way the transition over the takeover of the Durban buses has been handled".

Last week Remnant Alton fired 800 drivers for embarking on an illegal strike.

The SA Transport and Aligned Workers Union (Satawu) appealed the dismissals and has since asked the commission for reconciliation, mediation and arbitration to intervene.

No resolution has been reached at meetings between the CCMA, unions and Remnant Alton. The parties have been meeting since Monday.

"The drivers' jobs are at stake and they feel insecure," Mbatha said. "We are angry at the way things are being handled."

He said the city's clumsy transport system called for urgent attention, otherwise Durban would not be able to cope with the demands of the 2010 World Cup.

Remnant Alton won the contract to take over Durban's biggest bus operation in 2003. It was one of the largest black economic empowerment deals in the history of the eThekwini municipality, but complaints about the poor service and quality of buses soon followed.

In August political parties agreed to let the municipality buy back the buses from Remnant Alton.

The DA and IFP expressed dissatisfaction over the decision to retain Remnant Alton.

Hundreds of bus drivers resigned when the buses were taken over by Remnant Alton. They complained about "bad" working conditions.

In August the eThekwini municipality bought back the buses after allegations of mismanagement.

Two weeks ago hundreds of drivers downed tools when it was announced that the buses would be taken over by the municipality, while the drivers remained contracted to Remnant Alton.

The drivers now demand thatthe municipality employ them as well.

The proposed buy-back will cost R405million, with R390million being for the purchase of new buses.

The remaining R15million will cover ticketing and other equipment.

The total cost, including 582 new buses, purchasing of ticketing, other equipment, upfront repairs and painting would be R619million.

eThekwini municipality deputy manager Derek Naidoo said that mismanagement was one of Remnant Alton's problems, but agreed that a funding shortfall was a major concern.

Remnant Alton would be retained as operator but its routes would be reduced ahead of the 2010 World Cup.


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