Transport snag could leave pupils stranded
PLANS by the Department of Education to take over the function of providing transport to pupils have hit a snag after the tender was challenged by the losing bidders.
The pupil transport programme aims to help pupils who have to travel long distances to school.
The function is currently managed by the Department of Transport (DoT) and was supposed to have been taken over by the Department of Education at the end of the month.
“Members of the (education) portfolio committee were told recently that the new tender process had been halted due to more than 15 appeals having been referred to the Bid Adjudication Tribunal in Treasury,” said DA MPL and spokesperson on Education, Dr Rishigen Viranna.
He said this could present serious challenges for pupils in desperate need of transport.
“The meeting has also revealed that the Education Department will not take over the mandate at the end of June, as previously planned. Instead, it will have to transfer funds to the Transport Department each month to keep existing services up and running,” he said.
A few months ago, the department, as the custodian of education matters, was taken to court by advocacy group Equal Education (EE) to force it to provide transport to pupils in Nquthu who were forced to travel long distances to school.
Cherity Sebopela of EE in KwaZulu-Natal said they were not aware of the tender issue. “We weren’t aware that the bidding process had started.”
Department spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said although the transport function had challenges, the department would continue to help pupils.
“We have challenges in the budget and as the function is under-funded.
“We are providing transport to about 75 000 pupils when the target is about 300 000. We’re providing that transport and will continue to do so,” said Mthethwa.