commuter reprieve

THE provincial task team appointed by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize to expedite the reinstatement of a public bus service for thousands of commuters in Durban and adjoining townships says it has only "two weeks to get the service back on the road".

THE provincial task team appointed by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize to expedite the reinstatement of a public bus service for thousands of commuters in Durban and adjoining townships says it has only "two weeks to get the service back on the road".

The task team is headed by MEC for education Senzo Mchunu.

Thousands of commuters have been left stranded because bus company Remant Alton closed the business as a result of its poor financial status and a shortfall in government bus subsidies.

eThekwini City officials, including mayor Obed Mlaba and manager Mike Sutcliffe, were called in to give the provincial cabinet an account of what led to the service being shut down.

"This was done on June 17. It is against this background that our task team was asked to step in and make sure the disruption for commuters and the economy is kept to the minimum," Mchunu said.

"The cabinet regretted that the service would be halted and that this would inconvenience workers and have a disruptive effect on the economy, which is already under severe pressure owing to the economic crisis."

He said the task team had had a series of engagements with various stakeholders in this matter, including labour, to facilitate a lasting solution to the problem so thst thingd coulf return to normal.

"We are hoping that a new service will be in place within two weeks so that commuters, business and the transport industry are not unfairly affected," Mchunu said.

BEE company Remant Alton was awarded the contract to operate the City's buses in 2003 at R70million.

In March this year the bus service was suspended by the city after Remant Alton said it could no longer continue operation with only 150 buses out of the initial fleet of 500.

The City took over the buses while the company continued to manage daily operations and workers.

But three weeks ago the company informed the city that it could no longer continue the operation, leaving more then 1000 workers without jobs.

Meanwhile, commuters yesterday were still faced with the usual hardship of having to make an early start to be able to get on a taxi or train to get to work on time.

X