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‘Pupils are crammed into bus like animals’

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The parents’ biggest concern is “the worst case scenario”, which is an accident

THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Education said it will investigate allegations relating to pupil transport after an outcry by Holpan parents who claim that their children are being crammed into a severely overloaded school bus.

The identified bus transports pupils between their homes in Holpan and the Windsorton primary and high schools.

The driver is accused of using one 37-seater bus to transport about 170 primary and high school pupils on a daily basis.

The driver apparently makes two trips to transport all the pupils.

It is believed that there are about 130 primary school pupils and about 40 high school pupils.

The primary school pupils are transported in the first trip and are expected to be at the bus stop earlier, when it is still dark, than would normally be the case.

The parents said that the extremely cramped conditions on the bus has resulted in bullying amongst the pupils over the years, as the bigger children get to have the “best” seats while the smaller children “trample on each other”.

“Our children arrive home in a state after some were punched or their uniform torn during the fights for seats. Some even come injured and thus have to stay home to be treated.” said a parent.

Another mother said that one of the primary school pupils had a fit on the bus due to the heat and overcrowding.

“The bus driver has started to control the pupils with a whip and stands at the door as the children board the bus. We want our children to go to school but this is too much. Imagine how hot it gets in a house. Then put yourself in a Grade R pupil’s shoes, who is being trapped in the heat in this bus.” a mother complained.

The parents’ biggest concern is “the worst case scenario”, which is an accident.

“What will happen if he is forced to hit the brakes. We all know how rowdy children can get We cannot allow one person to destroy our children’s future. He treats our children as if they are in a military camp while he fails to provide them with the expected descent transport.

“Not even animals are treated in this manner.”

According to the parents, they have tried to approach the bus driver, as well as the schools, several times but nothing has been done about the matter.

They said that the driver has been transporting the pupils over the past four years and that it seems like they do not have any say in the matter.

“He displays cheekiness when we ask him to provide an additional transporter or to allow compliant service providers to do the job.”

Provincial Department of Education spokesperson Lehuma Ntuane said that a team from the department would visit the area to assess the pupil transport services.

“We are committed to providing a safe and reliable pupil transport service in the Northern Cape. We further call on law enforcement agencies to take stringent action against pupil transport operators who do not comply with the law,” said Ntuane.