CITY SHOULD UP­DATE PUB­LIC ON PROGRESS OF ELEC­TRIC BUSES

Cape Argus - - METRO -

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

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