'Get these BTH buses out of here'

ANGRY bus commuters in Mpumalanga - fed up with a local bus company's "shoddy service" - want its operations halted in the area.

Commuters claim that the North West Star bus company, also known as Botlhaba Transport Holding, is putting their lives at risk by using unsafe buses. They also charge that the vehicles are always overloaded and charged inflated fares.

The company operates between Lefiso village and Pretoria from 2.30am until 7.30am - transporting about 10000 passengers daily.

Spokesperson for the commuters, Pitso Lehutso, said the company had also cost a number of people their jobs for being late for work because the company did not keep to their own bus timetables.

In a meeting between BTH management, government officials and commuters in Nokaneng village yesterday, Lehutso said for a number of years the operator had refused to solve the problem of the frequent breakdowns of its buses.

"The bus management has acknowledged that their fleet is in bad condition but have done nothing to rectify the problem.

"The buses are transporting passengers with broken windows, leaking roofs, fuming engines and cracked floors.

"We want them out."

Lehutso said the area's commuters want their plight to be brought to the attention of the monitoring and evaluation section in President Jacob Zuma's office.

BTH's operating manager Rudolf Komane has blamed poor road conditions in the area for the state of the buses.

On overloading, Komane said it only happened when there was a bus broke down and could not be repaired immediately. Passengers were then compelled to use the next available bus.

Regarding complaints that fares were inflated fares, Komane said his company had a forum consisting of passengers and stakeholders who were consulted when fare increases were implemented.

"A presentation is done at the depot where participants are given documents stating trends and factors considered when the increment is determined.

"Representatives are then given time to hold meetings with communities they represent," he said.