CITY SHOULD UPDATE PUBLIC ON PROGRESS OF ELECTRIC BUSES
IT IS time for the city to come clean and tell us exactly what is happening with the electric buses it has on order and other problems relating to the purchase of new bus chassis.
We know that these deals have been investigated by the Hawks and council’s own forensic experts. We also know that there are supposed to be disciplinary proceedings against the council commissioner of the Transport and Urban Development Authority, Melissa Whitehead, but we have no idea of the outcomes.
Ms Whitehead, for instance, receives a salary of more than R3 million a year or R274 000 a month, and she has been suspended since January. How can the city afford to pay these staggering amounts to a person who is not working? There are also further questions that require answers.
We know that the city accepted a tender for 10 12m electric buses made by the Chinese firm BYD. The buses, according to the City Council Media release, were supposed to be in operation last June.
We know that at the time each bus cost between R4.8m and R7.1m on the international market. The initial reports on the deal quoted a price of R126m for 10 buses. That is R12.6m per bus, but that is likely to include spares, battery charging stations and other equipment. It still seems very expensive and costs could escalate before the buses actually give us any sort of return. In addition, the value of the rand has declined and other reports say the contract could now be worth R300m.
So where are we? When will the buses be on the streets and how much will they finally cost? And for how much longer will the city continue paying someone R3m a year to sit at home?
It is a mess and at the very least we need an update and evidence of a sense of urgency in dealing with this explosive matter.
JANINE MYBURGH, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry