Judge puts brakes on Limpopo scholar transport tender

Despite being illegal, bakkies are used as scholar transport in many parts of rural Limpopo. / Suprise Mazibila
Despite being illegal, bakkies are used as scholar transport in many parts of rural Limpopo. / Suprise Mazibila

The department of education in Limpopo has been interdicted from implementing a R1.2bn three-year scholar transport tender following a court ruling after the alleged irregularities in awarding the tenders.

The South African National Small Bus Operators Council secretary in Limpopo, Olivia Maponya, said at the heart of the court action was the fact that operators were appointed having tendered with nonexistent vehicles and, in some cases, the registration numbers depicted were not of buses but of sedans and pick-up trucks.

This forced the council to lodge an urgent interdict in the Polokwane High Court against the department and Nkoto Catering and Projects to stop the implementation of the scholar transport tenders awarded on January 13.

Judge Ephraim Makgoba ordered education MEC Polly Boshielo and her department to be restrained from awarding the tenders as well as any agreements concluded between the department and a transport provider.

"The MEC is ordered to renew the contractual arrangements of the service providers who provide transport prior to the award of the said tender to resume operating pending the final determination of review application," Makgoba said in the order delivered last week.

"Ordering that the relief set out operate as an interim interdict pending the final determination of review proceedings applicants will be launching within 10 days."

Makgoba also ordered the department and Nkoto Catering and Projects to pay costs.

Maponya said that despite the irregularities, the department was still willing to continue with the tender while investigations were under way.

"We found that attitude [rigging of tenders] repugnant and perpetuating the suffering of children from poor rural communities," she said.

Maponya said the scholar transport tenders were aimed at providing transport to children who have to walk over 5km or more to schools.

Boshielo said: "The matter is on appeal and let's wait for the decision of the court in this regard.

"Other processes are unfolding and we will announce them after the court proceedings. The matter is sub judice."

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