It has used almost six years, but finally commuters are viewing something being done about the shoddy transportation system provided with a government-owned bus company, as well as allegations of corruption and looting. While the forensic report containing the damning allegations of maladministration at the North West Transport Investment (NTI) was gathering dust, commuters were being ferried in “unroadworthy buses” and forking out for diesel. Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula noticed from them how bad things were lately, and he guaranteed action. Mbalula’s spokesperson, Ayanda-Allie Payne, said that the minister was committed to making certain the allegations of problem and maladministration would be investigated.
“We are aware of investigations conducted by prior boards and the allegations of corruption and maladministration. The minister has committed to instituting a forensic investigation to look into these allegations specifically,” said Payne. Meanwhile, the North West authorities said there have been some action predicated on the report. Provincial spokesperson Vuyi Ngesi said the CEO, who had been dismissed, took the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) but a settlement had been reached and he had subsequently left the company. Ngesi said the table chairperson was also removed, but was reinstated by the CCMA, compensated for lack of income and appointed again as chairperson until his resignation early this past year later.
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“The business instituted a criminal investigation with the Hawks into the allegations within the forensic survey in 2014 and investigations are still ongoing,” Ngesi said. The September 2013 record by Mochabapula Consulting Services revealed that old buses were sold “irregularly” and 95 second-hand and smaller ones were purchased at prices of new ones with a more impressive seating capacity.
More than R140 million was spent on purchasing the fleet, the specifications of which didn’t match those agreed to by the plank. She was, according to the report, one of those who won agreements to provide scholar transportation in the North West. “The company experienced financial prejudice because the buses were not said to be sold and, when they were sold, they were not properly and competently valued,” the record said. City Press has previously reported on how an plane and a hanger appreciated at R9 million and R1.7 million respectively were sold for a combined R6. 5 million … thus realising a loss of R4.2 million.
“Our investigation found that this was a obligated sale because the NTI didn’t have money to pay salaries,” the statement said. Although possessed by the North Western authorities wholly, the NTI’s biggest footprint was in Gauteng. After his consultations with commuters in some of areas including Hammanskraal, Mabopane and Atteridgeville, Mbalula likened NTI buses to “moving coffins”.
He heard how commuters needed to dig into their own wallets to fill the buses with diesel and pay toll fees even though they had already bought seat tickets. “You’ll find these buses were not able to transport commuters to work because of energy shortages, which means the company didn’t oversee the working of the buses properly, ” Mbalula said recently in a video he tweeted.
Mbalula informed commuters that the NTI contract was not heading to be renewed when it lapsed. He also announced a short-term remedial plan that noticed him deliver the first of a promised fleet of 200 buses obtained from small providers sub-contracted to NTI on its existing contract. “It must be known that the existing challenge is consequently of the NTI not having the ability to service a number of its contracted routes credited to fleet shortages,” Payne said.
Could this be the end for the NTI? A fresh plank will be appointed with the mandate of turning around the embattled company. “The minister’s intervention is supposed to both rescue the NTI and place the interests of the citizens at the centre of the service delivery agenda. Poor service delivery should not be tolerated regardless of who the service provider is – be it a state-owned company or a private operator,” Payne said.
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