Thursday, August 29, 2019

Striking school bus drivers leave 7 000 pupils stranded in Western Cape

More than 7 000 pupils in the Western Cape were stranded yesterday after their transportation services came to a standstill. Service providers for pupils downed tools because of complaints over agreement negotiations with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). The pupils were unable to attend school because numerous parents had not been warned about the strike.


Chaleen Arendse officer, for Women on Farms Project programme said pupils across the Cape Winelands had been left waiting for transport that never arrived. Arendse said, nobody was informed, and parents who were able to organize transport to school did not do so. “Numerous parents alternative transport could cost anything from R400 per month, which some could not manage to pay. An additional worrying tendency was the condition of the transport’’, said she.

Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa’s, Dawid Kamfer said that he had been flooded with calls from anxious parents, as far as ­Riversdal in the Southern Cape. ‘’Drivers were striking over disagreements over contracts and a tender being advertised by the WCED’’ said he.

Bronagh Hammond, WCED spokesperson said the department was informed late on Monday that the South African Small Bus Operators Council (Sansboc) would suspend all pupil transport services under its council. “We have yet to collate statistics from all circuits across the Western Cape. In Metro East, Metro North and West Coast District, pupils from 40 schools were affected, with nonattendance levels of more than 7000 pupils. “Pupils as young as five were left stranded on dark and unsafe roads this morning and, the WCED had yet to obtain statistics from schools across the Cape Winelands, therefore the number of absent pupils could be higher’’ said Hammond.

She said Sansboc’s main complaint related to the WCED’s advertising short-term contracts. Hammond said the WCED wrote to Sansboc’s lawyers to explain the details for the short-term pupil transport contracts, and that five-year contracts had been advertised until the end of October, leaving potential service providers plenty time to prepare bids.

Pravin Singh, Sansboc spokesperson said the strike was a last resort to bring the WCED to the negotiating table. “This was the only way for us to get them to the table in order to explain how their five-year and would be detrimental to operators. “Despite the WCED not approving to withdraw the tender, we have decided not to let pupils suffer tomorrow,” said Singh.

By: Ellouise Muller 

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