Learners left stranded

School children stranded outside the New Taxi Rank on Church street yesterday morning.

Traffic reached gridlock when learners, taxi drivers, private transport drivers and parents locked horns in a dispute over a transport arrangement that was previously made in 2015.
The agreement outlined private drivers would transport grade R-7 learners to various schools in the Northdale areas, and taxi drivers would transport high school learners.
Allegedly the arrangement made in 2015 had lapsed its term.
The agreement further stipulated private drivers would pick up the school children and drop them off at the taxi rank for public transportation.
Northern suburbs taxi association (NSTA) Vice Chairperson Hoosen Mohamed Bucus told Public Eye the termination of the arrangement was a joint decision with South Africa National Taxi Council (SANTACO).
Bheki Bhengu, Deputy Chairperson of Scholar Transport, said private transport drivers were told yesterday afternoon not to transport school children by the Taxi Association.
Bhengu, speaking on behalf of the private drivers, said the owners of private taxis feel there is no need for a dispute and will be able to continue transporting the learners.
He continued that the arrangement was made after the Imbali horror accident in September 2015, in which eight primary school learners were killed, to benefit the learners’ safety.
“The agreement did not need termination, but rather consultation,” said Bhengu.
However, parents and learners are urging for the arrangement to continue as it is cost efficient. Learners speaking to Public Eye during the demonstration said they pay an average of R500 for private transport and an average of R1500 for public transport.
A learner from Kharina Secondary School said, “I feel it is more affordable to travel with private transport as there is a fixed amount which is paid at the end of each month.”
Another learner said, “It is much better to travel with private transport as we are not squashed and our school clothes remain neat.”
Department of Education spokesperson, Sicelo Khuzwayo, said the department condemns the disruption of the academic programme.
Khuzwayo urged that parents to diligently choose the mode of transport for their children. “Safe and reliable transportation for our learners is important. In any decision that is made, the learners’ safety and arrival to school should be put first,” he said.

  AUTHOR
Bongeka Sibisi and Shorne Bennie

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