School transport drivers up in arms

Vuyolwethu Sangotsha

Vuyolwethu Sangotsha

Some Eastern Cape motorists contracted by the provincial education department to transport pupils to schools are forced to seek financial aid from loan sharks because the department has not paid them for almost three months.

The angry motorists lashed out at the department, accused it of failing them. Speaking on behalf of the disgruntled drivers, Edmon Kasi said they had not been paid since April.

"We have been submitting claims but it seems as if the department is just not willing to pay us," added Kasi.

He said it was difficult for most drivers to repair problems on their vehicles and to get petrol.

Kasi said he borrowed R1000 from a loan shark for petrol and to fix his car. He claimed that each driver was owed more than R10000 by the department.

However, he was not able to say how many contracted motorists were experiencing this problem but was adamant that many drivers had not been paid. Kasi said their attempts to get reasons from department officials as to why they were not being paid were unsuccessful.

He said the strike by the civil servants had also made things worse. Kasi said the money paid to them depended on the distance travelled once the number of days pupils went to schools.

"Even the MEC [Johnny Makgato] is aware of our situation but has done nothing to help us," he added.

When contacted for comment, provincial education department's Loyiso Pulumani confirmed that there were delays in processing payments.

Pulumani said: "Drivers should be paid according to the requirements of the auditor-general. We must also ensure that the payment systems are in line with the Public Finance Management Act.

"Once we have done this, payment will be made quickly and in a much more systematic manner."

Motorists said they were contracted to transport pupils to various schools in the province.