Operator calls on council to fix buses

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Remant Alton, the bus company operating the suspended bus service in Durban and surrounding areas, has called on the Ethekwini municipality to fix the faulty fleet before it could resume service.

Remant Alton spokesperson Paul Rush yesterday said the decision to suspend the bus service was meant to give time to the council to repair the buses.

In September the municipality bought back the buses for R405million from Remant Alton, leaving the drivers in the employment of the bus company.

Their buyback was after the city had awarded the tender for the bus service to Remant Alton in a BEE deal worth R70million in 2003.

Rush said the council was supposed to send the buses to the manufactures to be serviced, but that had not happened.

"Firstly, the drivers were not happy about the condition of the buses, and secondly, the smaller fleet left us with no choice but to put drivers on short time after the court ruling against our decision to retrench drivers," said Rush.

He accused the council of wanting to terminate the contract, saying that the servicing of the buses can be easily done.

Rush said the poor conditions of the buses brought complaints from drivers and commuters.

"We had to put drivers on short shifts because there were not enough buses. Many were parked at the company's depot, with mechanical problems."

A decision to retrench drivers had been withdrawn pending a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration verdict after unions had challenged initial planned retrenchments.

Neither the Ethekwini municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe nor the mayor Obed Mlaba were available for comment yesterday.