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One bus for 180 pupils

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The bus apparently arrives late for school most of the time and returns the pupils to their homes late in the afternoon.

A 60-SEATER bus transporting 180 pupils at a time to and from school, has shocked parents and resulted in them pointing fingers at the Northern Cape Department of Education.

The bus is being operated by a service provider contracted by the department to transport pupils at Taudiarora Primary School in Jan Kempdorp on a daily basis. He has been providing this service for the past five years.

The service provider is allegedly not complying with the pupil transport tender requirements and apparently does not own any vehicles. However, he still receives the contract.

Concerned parents yesterday raised the alarm that the bus transports more than three times its legally allowed passenger limit.

The school governing body (SGB) confirmed that the contract agreement stipulated that the service provider is expected to own three buses to transport pupils from Jan Kempdorp and surrounding villages.

The furthest destination is about 15km from school.

The bus apparently arrives late for school most of the time and returns the pupils to their homes late in the afternoon.

One parent stated that they (the parents) have asked the school to approach the Department of Education to intervene for several years already, however nothing has happened.

The parent said that she was shown proof by the school that several incidents were reported to the department.

The parents are now demanding answers as to why the service provider is still on the department’s payroll while he, according to them, puts their children’s lives at risk.

“Our children’s future is at stake and their education is being compromised by this contractor.

“Our kids sometimes have to hitch-hike home because the bus failed to collect them from school,” Gordon Gaobonwe, a parent with a pupil at the school, said.

“This service provider is the same one who was transporting pupils in 2016 when one of them, Kutlwano Garesape, was killed on a railway track. The boy and his mother missed the bus and decided to walk to school. Kutlwano was killed by a man who attempted to rape his mother.

“Apparently that was not reason enough for the department to look into the transport problem,” a concerned Gaobonwe said.

He added that he often fears for the safety of the pupils and sometimes volunteers to wait at the bus stop with the children.

The secretary of the SGB, Josephine Motshabi, said that the bus often only drops off pupils at the school at 10am . . . with children cramped inside.

“That is if it even shows up,” said Motshabi. According to her, the school has 195 pupils . . . with 180 using the bus.

“When the bus is late, it means there is no school,” she stated.

“Last year, just before the September school holidays, the bus was not operating for two weeks after it broke down.

“The department did not see that as a problem, while parents demanded answers from us as the SGB on the way forward.”

The Northern Cape Department of Education claimed that it has not been aware of the problem and only received a complaint from the school yesterday.

Department spokesperson Lehuma Ntuane said the service provider informed them yesterday that he is terminating his contract due to personal reasons.

“We are, however, awaiting a formal letter from the operator and promise to immediately look for an alternative service provider as we do not want to compromise the pupils. Even though our financial year only ends in March, we will be able to release him (from his contract) earlier than that.”

All efforts to get comment from the service provider were unsuccessful.