PUTCO bus contract was irregularly extended for over 20 years at the expense of commuters’ safety

The Public Utility Transport Corporation (PUTCO) bus company has been, and continues to be, under heavy public criticism following deadly incidents involving its buses where the lives of many innocent commuters were lost and some sustained critical injuries, yet the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport irregularly extends its contract.

Last year, a PUTCO bus carrying passengers caught fire on the road and six passengers died while many sustained critical injuries. This incident happened along the deadly Moloto Road, and it was not long after another PUTCO bus which was not carrying passengers at the time, burnt on the N1 in Pretoria.

These are two of many incidents that have occurred, and the residents of Gauteng have been complaining about poor services delivery by PUTCO buses. They claim that some of the buses are not roadworthy, they are old, always having breakdowns and do not honour pick-up points.

Residents concerned about their safety on the road took the matter to the Public Protector who revealed that PUTCO bus company has been illegally benefiting from the irregular extension of its contracts by the Gauteng Department of Transport since 1997.

According to the report, the PUTCO bus contract which was initially awarded to the company for only 136 weeks in 1997, has been renewed without due process being followed until now causing an unfair competitive advantage for PUTCO. Shockingly, the Public Protector also found that 108 other bus contracts were extended irregularly and that there was a lack of proper performance management.

This confirms the DA’s stance that the quality of transport available to Gauteng commuters has deteriorated to the extent that bus services have become death traps for commuters.

Introducing proper competition in the provision of public bus transport for consumers will improve the quality of services offered.

Furthermore, many bus companies that have been operating in Gauteng had to close operations due to financial challenges leaving hundreds of people jobless. Should this tender be advertised regularly as it supposed to be, it will save many jobs and ensure that a quality service is rendered instead of a one monopoly company for over two decades.

The revelation by the Public Protector comes after various MECs for Roads and Transport had promised to advertise the bus contracts but failed to deliver on their promises. We question why PUTCO has been a preferred service provider while there are hundreds of other bus companies in Gauteng.

While there have been some legal challenges to the issuing of bus contract tenders, the department also failed to manage its supply chain management processes properly.

Only now that the Public Protector has entered the fray is there movement in advertising these tenders.

The DA will continue to demand access to proper, reliable, and safe public transport for the residents of Gauteng. We will also continue to pressure the department to introduce competition in the public transport market by regularly advertising tenders for bus services.

The DA’s solution is that government must invest in rail and BRT services on the current routes being serviced by these bus contracts, which are unsustainable in the long run.

Only 17 out of 134 train sets operational in Gauteng while commuters still forced to use overcrowded trains

Residents of Gauteng have been let down by the public transport system, especially the railway system in the province.

Currently, there are 134 train sets that are not operational the province, while there are only 17 sets available.

However, due to vandalism, the 17 train sets that are available cannot be utilised optimally, leaving commuters to find an alternative, and often more expensive means of getting to and from work.

This information was revealed to the DA by the MEC for Transport Jacob Mamabolo from my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

The answers received from MEC Mamabolo is deeply worrying as this means that residents who cannot afford any other mode of transport, face greater difficulty in getting to work.

Travel by rail is by far the cheapest way to travel to and from work, however the inability of our provincial Transport department to ensure that this critical piece of infrastructure is safeguarded and properly maintained has led to this service now being underutilised. In addition, a better rail transport system that is maintained properly and has proper security on an ongoing basis will save the province millions in repairing critical transport infrastructure.

This has led to severe overcrowding in other transport services, non-adherence to Covid-19 protocols and loss of much-needed revenue.

While the department has plans to ensure that 20 train sets are recovered through maintenance by the end of this financial year, ideally al l134 train sets that are not in operation must be fixed and put back into operation as a matter of urgency.

This will ensure that pressure is eased on other modes of public transport and will also drastically reduce travel times to and from work.

The DA will continue to put pressure and demand that our railway system is fixed as a matter of urgency so that our residents can have the all three modes of public transport available to them at all times.

Prasa failing to protect its infrastructure

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is concerned that the Prasa rail infrastructure in Gauteng is being pillaged and the company is not doing anything to protect its assets.

The damage has been so severe that Metrorail can no longer service the commuters of Gauteng and can only operate on one line, Pienaarspoort. Even this line had its services interrupted due to cable theft.

Prasa will maintain that that their services are limited due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the truth is that this is a veiled excuse. The company’s security, including the railway police, have failed to protect its infrastructure to the point that it can no longer operate its services in the province.

The latest example of this is the cable theft that happened on the line in Lyttleton in the early hours of Monday morning. The stolen cables, ready and cut for collection, were found by a local resident on Monday morning. He alerted Prasa who sent out an investigator.

See pictures here here  here  and here

What Prasa requires is a proactive strategy to protect its infrastructure or else its trains will never run in Gauteng again, leaving 5% of the province’s commuters stranded and placing undue pressure on other modes of public transport in the province.

I call on Prasa’s administrator to step in and arrest the rampant theft that will cost the company millions of rands, it does not have to repair the damage. Gauteng requires the services of this important public transport provider if it wants to restart its economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

DA’s warning of public transport fare increases fall on deaf ears

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has been warning the Gauteng MEC for Transport, Jacob Mamabolo that the Taxi Industry has increased their fares during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. I have also received complaints from commuters that bus fares were also increased.

However, these warnings have fallen on deaf ears. Over the weekend, the Alexandra, Randburg, Midrand, Sandton Taxi Association (Armsta) issued a notice that they will be increasing their fares from R11.00 to R30.00 due to government regulations that restrict the number of passengers they are allowed to transport and because of the increase in the price of fuel.

Increasing the taxi fare because of the slight increase in petrol does not hold water because despite the increase last week the price of petrol it is still cheaper than it was before the lockdown.

MEC Mamabolo needs to intervene in this situation as a matter of urgency as we cannot allow the exploitation of commuters who are solely dependent on public transport on a daily basis.

Furthermore, the DA is calling on the MEC Mamabolo to re-appropriate the bus subsidy and use some of the Covid-19 relief funds to assist the Taxi Industry with temporary relief during this pandemic to alleviate the pressure on commuters who are already under economic pressure due to the pandemic.

More stringent measures needed to curb train accidents

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to put more stringent measures in place to ensure that train accidents do not occur.

Prasa has been experiencing numerous incidents including train accidents, cable theft, vandalism and the burning of trains.

In the latest incident, a Premier Classe passenger train collided with a stationary goods train between Roodepoort and Horizon Station in Johannesburg.

One passenger was airlifted to Milpark Hospital but later died, while the other four injured passengers were taken to Krugersdorp Hospital.

This is one of many incidents which highlights the need for our commuters to be given a safe, reliable and affordable public transport system.

Commuters who are solely dependent on the services of Metrorail are always at the short end of the stick because they now have to make alternative transport arrangements.

The DA would like to extend its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased and wish those who were injured a speedy recovery.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the MEC for Roads and Transport, Jacob Mamabolo to liaise with the National Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula to speed up the process of handing over the Prasa services to the province. This process will ensure proper maintenance and security of our trains.

DA calls on Gauteng Government to devise plan to avoid public transport disaster

by Solly Msimanga Cllr – DA Gauteng Premier Candidate

The looming forced cessation of train operations by Metrorail in Gauteng will leave tens of thousands of commuters stranded.

Should train operations be halted it is unlikely that other forms of public transport will be able to handle the additional demand for transport services.

This means that commuters will either be left stranded or will wait for hours for public transport.

This could be an economic disaster for Gauteng as thousands of workers will not be able to go to work until train safety conditions have been improved.

The safety of commuters must always be of primary concern to public transport operators and as such the Rail Safety Regulator cannot be faulted for intervening in the escalating safety crisis within Metrorail.

Blame needs to be placed squarely on the shoulders of Metrorail’s management who allowed the deterioration of safety standards. Heads should roll at Metrorail for causing this potential crisis.

I call on the MEC for Transport, Ismail Vadi and municipalities in Gauteng to devise contingency public transport plans should train services be halted.

We cannot allow hard working commuters to be stranded or even lose their jobs due to Metrorail’s recklessness.

A DA-led administration would work closely with all stakeholders to ensure that the people of the Gauteng are the beneficiaries of a reliable, safe and integrated system. It is time for change that the puts the people first and builds One Province and South Africa for all.

DA Gauteng debates Motion on Scholar Transport

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education, Khume Ramulifho MPL and DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Education, Ashor Sarupen MPL, during a debate on scholar transport.

Speech by

Khume Ramulifho MPL

“Departmental support for scholar transport inefficient”

• We have the responsibility to widen the scope of the Scholar Transport Programme within the department, to ensure that all scholar transport vehicles are roadworthy. Scholar transport must be reliable, arrive on time and driven by sober drivers;
• Is the department building schools too far from where learners reside? Is it not possible to prioritise building schools in closer proximity to avoid the burgeoning scholar transport budget?
• The DA visited rural schools and we saw learners walking long distances yet the transport owner is paid. Equally, some battle to do homework after school as the buses leave immediately after class. A ‘one size fits all’ approach is clearly not the best method;
• We should allow learners the opportunity to choose the school of their choice and get support from the department. We must start to consider a budget which affords individual learners a choice. If this can cover scholar transport and tuition fees, it will be a progressive move which advances learner choice.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by

Ashor Sarupen MPL

“Low-income families suffer most when scholar transport needs aren’t met”

• The current Scholar Transport policy can only be made effective with enforceable regulations and better planning, including working together with municipalities, to ensure that learner transport needs are met. It is an area in need of serious reform;
• Many parents make major financial sacrifices to cover the cost of private transport to get their children to school, such as taxis and private busses, outside of the framework of the department, because government has failed them;
• Despite the 2015 national learner transport policy being implemented, and Gauteng enacting its own scholar transport policy, a report by Equal Education found that principals who apply for scholar transport assistance frequently give up, as their requests are not responded to by the department; and
• As it stands, the policy places the onus on low income and working class parents for ensuring their children arrive on time, it assumes hard working low income families have the time or agency to dictate the timing of both state and private transport for their children.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA Gauteng debates Motion on Investment in Public Transport


The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Transport, Dr Neil Campbell MPL and DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Social Development, Justus de Goede MPL, during a debate on Gauteng’s public transport investment.

Dr Neil Campbell MPL

“ANC motion far removed from the reality of commuters”

• The current bus subsidy programme is a disaster, with commuters and bus companies both unhappy. Busses are old, unreliable, and unpunctual, and routes are often not serviced;
• The Gautrain is unaffordable to most commuters, it has cost far more than was originally calculated and continues to drain the provincial treasury via subsidies;
• The freight–hubs which were to serve Gauteng are currently only draining the economy; and
• Gauteng’s Driver Licence Testing Centres are inefficient and plagued with many corrupt officials. Many road users’ service delivery complaints have gone unheard.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Justus de Goede MPL

“Public transport in Gauteng requires thorough planning and coordination to be a success”

• A lack of coordination in public transport planning between the different spheres of government in the province is crippling growth and development in the sector;
• Public-private partnerships must be sought in order to ensure the sustainability of public transport in the province;
• The creation of the Gauteng Transport Authority, which aimed to streamline uncoordinated institutional structures, was announced two years ago, but there has been virtual silence since due to the lack of political will; and
• Two recent surveys paint a very bleak picture of public perceptions of the transport system and found that commuters are actually leaving the public transport network, and have lost confidence in it.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Spotlight at last on Gauteng public transport

The Democratic Alliance in Gauteng notes with appreciation two enquiries into public transport, which are currently taking place. The first being that of the Competition Commission, which will, over two years investigate the high price of transport, and the second investigation by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature Portfolio Committee on Roads and Transport, which will interrogate the Province’s bus services.

These two important investigations come after years of the DA highlighting the parlous position of public transport in Gauteng.

Successive public meetings and visits to bus depots and routes have confirmed the DA’s view that there are major deficiencies in this primary mode of public transport, used by millions of residents every day.

The Competition Commission’s enquiry into land transport will be at national level, but the terms of the enquiry specifically include a focus on transport elements in individual Provinces, such as the Gautrain bus and train system, which is unique to Gauteng.

The Portfolio Committee’s bus enquiry began with two full days of public participation last week and follow-up sessions are scheduled. Public participation and representations have been solicited via the media.

Stakeholders such as the operators themselves, the law enforcement agencies, Government Departments and, importantly, commuters have been requested to participate. For the DA in the Gauteng Legislature, this is a welcome reaffirmation of the watchdog role that legislative bodies should be playing to protect the public interest in South Africa.

The DA will work to ensure that these investigations are held in a transparent and democratic manner, with positive results for the commuters in Gauteng.

DA Debates 2016/17 Gauteng Department Of Roads And Transport Budget

Speech by: Neil Campbell MPL

“Roads and Transport budget will not get Gauteng moving”

  • Despite some departmental successes in the past year this budget fails to address urgent problems.
  • Corruption lurks in the Transport Department yet a budget plan to eliminate it is lacking.
  • The West Rand’s inferior transportation infrastructure requires long overdue improvement. But is Gautrain expansion the answer? Gautrain tickets cost more than PRASA’s and are unaffordable to most commuters as the recent Household Transport Survey revealed.
  • Premiere Makhura talks opposition to corruption yet it finds refuge in the Transport Department, right under his nose.

The full speech can be obtained here.


Speech by: Justus de Goede MPL

“Public transport not meeting demands”

  • What happened to the “radical” transformation we heard so much about over the last year? The Department’s spending framework for the year certainly doesn’t reflect that.
  • Subsidies are falling behind operating costs and new solutions will have to be found to keep routes from being abandoned.
  • Research estimates that for each Rand of investment spent on public transport, between R 4 and R 9 in benefit resulted.
  • This should be a wake-up call – our public transport systems are not keeping pace with strong and rising demand and need urgent attention.

The full speech can be obtained here.


Media Enquiries:

Neil Campbell MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Roads and Transport

082 387 2540


Justus de Goede MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Transportation

060 558 8305

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