New bus company to operate on KZN routes

KwaZulu-Natal's transport department has confirmed that Transnat Africa has been appointed the new operator of eThekwini's municipal bus service, bringing relief to thousands of stranded commuters in and around Durban.

KwaZulu-Natal's transport department has confirmed that Transnat Africa has been appointed the new operator of eThekwini's municipal bus service, bringing relief to thousands of stranded commuters in and around Durban.

The more restricted new operation will not take all the routes that previously served the municipality.

Transport MEC Bheki Cele said about 100 buses would be operating by next Monday.

The municipality signed the R300million deal with Transnat Africa on Friday, awarding the company a contract to operate until October next year when the contract of the previous operator, Remant Alton, was supposed to end.

Schools in the province reopen next Monday and parents will be spared the financial burden of taxi fares that run twice as high as bus fares.

A cabinet team of three MECs had been working around the clock to restore the city's bus service after bankrupt Remant Alton closed shop last month.

Remant Alton, a black empowerment company, won the contract to operate the city's buses in 2003, but consumers started complaining about shoddy service.

Hundreds of its bus drivers engaged in a series of crippling strike over wages and poor working conditions.

The company retrenched all its drivers when it closed down but the labour court declared the dismissals invalid. Today the court in Johannesburg is expected to make a final ruling and if the retrenchments are ruled invalid the new operator will be expected to re-employ workers.

Transnat Africa, a holding company that runs bus services in three provinces, is based in Newcastle.

The company owns Ikhwezi Bus Service in Empangeni, Sizanani MaZulu in Pietermaritzburg, Imondlo Bus Service in Vryheid, and Express Liners and Gauteng Coaches, which run between Johannesburg and Durban.

Last week Sowetan revealed that the new bus firm will not operate the inner-city bus service, which will be taken over by taxi operators.

Cele said reduced subsidies had forced officials to cut the number of buses and trips. Alternative public transport would be provided by minibus taxis or small bus operators.

He said Transnat Africa would be conducting a holding operation to restore a good transport service in Durban to October 2010 and to take the city beyond the World Cup.

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