East London - The Eastern Cape Transport Department has blamed unexpected passengers for the 923 pupils that weren't transported to schools with the relaunch of the province's scholar transport programme this week.
Department spokesperson Ncedo Kumbaca said there were more pupils at pick-up points than there were supposed to be. He said his department has asked the Education Department "to deal with this matter urgently."
"A list of pupils who are approved to use the programme will be provided to the scholar transport operators by Friday this week, including their routes and pick-up points," said Kumbaca.
In an effort to avoid any more complications, Transport MEC Thandiswa Marawu yesterday instructed the deployment of all the department's senior managers to various routes and pick-up points to monitor operations.
Acting Department HOD Linda Salie said only pupils who travel more than 5km to school and who have certain curriculum needs qualify for the programme.
"These criteria are aligned to the Draft National Scholar Transport Policy. This was taken into consideration in the identification of the routes that we are now servicing," said Salie.
The 923 pupils that were left stranded make up 1.65 per cent of the pupils that were supposed to have been transported on Monday. Salie said the other 55 077 pupils were collected and arrived at school on time.
"These minor challenges have been channeled to One Future Development 46, a Section 21 company established by the Eastern Cape Bus and Taxi Business Chamber to coordinate scholar transportation," said Salie.
She added that the department will also make use of local municipalities, community development workers, school governing bodies and ward councillors to assist with monitoring the programme.