DRIVE TO REVIVE AILING SCHOLAR TRANSPORT

NEW Mpumalanga public works, roads and transport MEC Clifford Mkansi is facing one of his first challenges in his job.

NEW Mpumalanga public works, roads and transport MEC Clifford Mkansi is facing one of his first challenges in his job.

This after Premier David Mabuza announced during a two-day cabinet meeting in the Kruger National Park last week that Mkansi would be given the responsibility of the controversial scholar transport programme.

The programme was introduced in 2001 as part of efforts to assist pupils who travel long distances to schools.

"The programme is aimed mainly at far-flung rural areas and particularly child-headed households," the premier's spokesperson, Ntime Skhosana, said.

"Since its inception the programme experienced challenges and various allegations that range from a lack of tight oversight, overloading, unroadworthy vehicles, discrepancies on number of pupils and route distances to late arrivals," Skhosana said.

The programme has always been under the department of education and several officials have been fingered in scandals.

Mabuza also announced that investigations into allegations of corruption in the scholar transport programme would be shifted from the provincial education department to his department.

He said his office would conduct a comprehensive forensic inquiry to unearth and verify the authenticity of some of the alleged acts of impropriety.

The cabinet also resolved to assign the provincial roads section to assume the role of an implementing agent for the entire provincial scholar transport system.

Mabuza said it was important that the government informed the public about the real causes and extent of the problems afflicting the programme.

"We can't afford to disadvantage vulnerable communities through our own bureaucratic delays and indecisiveness," he said.

"Our office will conduct investigations so to verify some of the allegations, stop wastage and nip leakages for possible corrupt motives."

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