South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) members at North West Transport Investment (NTI) will march on the Department of Transport on Monday to demonstrate their displeasure at statements made by Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Last month Minister Mbalula met with community members to hear their complaints about NTI’s bus service in Hammanskraal, Mabopane and Attridgeville. Without pausing to give regard to the various factors involved, Mbalula told the community he would not renew the company’s contract when it lapses in April next year. Instead, he would put it out to tender.
Meantime, 200 extra buses would be brought in to replace the incumbent’s rundown buses, he added.
Had Minister Mbalula not been trying to be a populist, he would have promised to investigate and revert to them. On investigating, he would have found out NTI employs 1 800 people, 67% of whom are SATAWU members. It goes without saying in a country where more than 10 million people are currently unemployed, we cannot afford to lose any jobs let alone 1800.
NTI is wholly-owned by the North West government. If Minister Mbalula puts the bus service contract out to tender, what he effectively will be doing is taking away business from a state-owned entity and handing it over to private capital.
Moreover, it is a fallacy to think handing over the contract to private business will benefit commuters. The only winners will be the tenderpreneurs who are already lining up to provide the extra 200 buses Mbalula mentioned.
The transport sector plays crucial role in the economy and needs a sober-minded minister not one prone to shortcuts and populist stance. Instead of putting the bus service contract to tender Minister Mbalula must fix state-owned NTI by doing the following:
On Monday protestors will gather at the old bus depot grounds in Marabastad at 9 am; start marching to the Department of Transport at 10 am and handover the memorandum at 11.30 am.