“We are continuing to engage pupil transport operators in the Province to ensure that we provide a safe and reliable service for deserving pupils to and from school”
WHILE the Northern Cape Department of Education has denied that there is an education crisis in the Kakamas area, it has admitted that more than 3 500 pupils are affected by a bus drivers’ strike due to non-payment by the department.
Department of Education spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe confirmed yesterday that six operators, who transported pupils to school on a total of seven routes in the area, had been on strike since April 2.
The drivers are on strike due to non-payment by the department.
Van der Merwe said yesterday that there were a total of 44 routes in the ZF Mgcawu district but only seven routes had not been paid.
“According to our records of pupil transport routes in the ZF Mgcawu, out of the operators of 44 routes only seven routes have not been paid. These seven routes represent a total of six operators, with one operator having two routes,” Van der Merwe stated.
“The department has informed the operators that the outstanding payments will be received on April 12, 2019.”
Van der Merwe added that a total of 3 538 pupils were affected by the strike.
The DA in the Northern Cape said in a statement last week that close to 2 200 children in and around the Kakamas area, ranging from Grade 1 to matric, who relied on approximately 40 school buses to transport them to school, were affected by the strike that commenced at the beginning of last week.
“These same pupils, including a number of matrics, already missed close to four weeks of schooling in the first term due to a similar scenario,” DA provincial leader Andrew Louw said last week.
“At the start of the first term, these bus drivers were only paid for the month of January. They were informed that the department’s budget had run dry. In effect, the bus drivers have rendered services for February and March with no payment from the department. They can, however, no longer afford to continue providing transport services as their businesses are suffering.”
Van der Merwe, however, dismissed the statement by the DA, adding that this was a deliberate attempt by the party to mislead the public on the status quo of pupil transport in the Province.
“We are continuing to engage pupil transport operators in the Province to ensure that we provide a safe and reliable service for deserving pupils to and from school,” Van der Merwe said.
He added that it was not true that the pupils had missed four weeks of schooling, pointing out that the operators had not transported pupils as from April 2.