Contract troubles leave taxi drivers without certificates

About 400 taxi operators from four provinces, who sent their drivers to a learnership programme, have no proof that their drivers received any training.

Lucky Ndlovu of Phephani Learnership won a contract to train drivers from Gauteng, Limpopo, Free State and Eastern Cape.

Each driver was to get a R2400 travelling allowance, depending on the distance he had travelled.

Drivers were also to receive certificates confirming that they had received training in defensive driving, communication and consumer care.

Tlai Nkali of Free State is one of the 400 drivers who have not received their certificates.

Nkali says he has given up because no one seems to know how long he will have to wait for the certificates and travelling allowances.

He says he believes Ndlovu has enriched himself.

Puleng Mahao, a programme coordinator from Qwaqwa in Free State, says she is used to this type of treatment "I am still dishing out certificates to drivers who were trained in 2004," she says.

She says their drivers are barred from speaking to the media.

"They have to follow procedures before taking the matter to the newspapers" Mahao says.

Defending himself, Ndlovu says he is also battling to get his more than R3,5 million from the Transport Education and Train ing Authority (Teta).

He says he has been waiting since October 2007 to get Teta to pay him.

He won the contract in 2006 and but was never paid the R3549960 after completing it.

He says he received part payment in February 2007 but then, a year later, Teta questioned him about travelling allowances and drivers being overcrowded.

"Then the new CEO, Dudu Tseledi, said she could not release the outstanding money because she had not been given the board's approval," Ndlovu says.

But Ndlovu is confident that the matter will be finalised on April 16 because the Labour Department has stepped in after he approached it.

He says Teta offered to pay him R1,9m during their recent arbitration, but he rejected it and asked the department to intervene.

Ndlovu said Phephani has not issued certificates because Teta has not paid the company.

"I understand the learners' frustration and I don't blame them for coming to you for help," he says. "But I have not received full payment either."

Consumer Line contacted Tseledi in December 2007.

She said they were investigating how the contract was awarded and that she was not in a position to discuss the matter until the end of January 2008.

She undertook to forward a report on the findings.