Uncertainty over schools

TODAY'S reopening of schools in KwaZulu-Natal remains uncertain because the deadlock between the new bus operator, Transnat Africa, and labour is expected to continue.

Yesterday the Transport and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (Tawusa) urged Transnat management not to start operating today to "avoid unrest".

About 15000 school pupils and at least 45000 commuters will be left stranded.

The deadlock concerns the plight of 800 drivers who had not been absorbed by Transnat.

Tawusa general secretary, Zack Mankge said he had met Premier Zweli Mkhize about the matter and swould be meeting Transnat Africa today.

Transnat Africa was appointed two weeks ago to replace Durban's beleaguered bus operator, Remant Alton, after it ceased operations last month because of serious financial difficulties.

Transnat CEO Mike Jesserman said the contract that was given to them by the municipality was smaller.

"We can't take all 800 drivers while we need only 500."

Jesserman said he was not sure when they would begin operating because another operator had applied for an interdict preventing the transfer of the Remant Alton contract to Transnat.

"The company claims the appointment was not transparent," Jesserman said. "The matter will be heard in the Pietermaritzburg high court today and we will know after that what to do next."

The operations of People Mover, Mainliner and Mynah buses have ceased since Remant Alton folded.

Taxi operators had been struggling to cope with high commuter volumes and the reopening of schools will cause added strain.

Denise Phuza, chairperson of the transport forum, said they were left on edge.

"As representative of commuters we have been trying to meet the new operator to iron out the drivers' issues."

"The drivers want to be given the jobs. But we want to see buses on the road."

KZN Parents Association chairperson Sayed Rajack expressed concern about children not being able to get to school. He said there should be a compromise between the operator, council and drivers to allow services to continue.