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GOVERNMENT IGNORES HIGH COURT ORDER

23 Jan Transport

It is inconceivable that the State, having acknowledged the legally binding nature of its contract with Golden Arrow for the provision of commuter bus services, its obligations in terms of that contract as well as having conceded that Golden Arrow is owed more than R92 million in unpaid passenger subsidies, is still to comply with the terms of the negotiated settlement agreement concluded between the parties on the 15th January 2009 and made an order of court by Justice Motala.
The respondents to the application brought by Golden Arrow, and parties to the settlement agreement, were the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Finance, the Government and the MEC for Transport in the Western Cape.

Golden Arrow is shocked and extremely disappointed by the inexplicable behaviour of the State in failing to honour undertakings to which it freely agreed especially in light of the seriousness of the situation and its potentially devastating impact on Golden Arrow, its employees, its passengers and the economy of the Cape Town Metropolitan area.

It is abundantly clear from the content of papers lodged with the Court by the respondents that government is fully conscious of the binding nature of the transport contracts that it has concluded with bus companies throughout the country, its legal obligations in relation to such contracts and the very serious consequences of its failure to make the necessary payments in terms of such contracts. It is, consequently, beyond our comprehension that government appears willing, by its failure to fulfill legally binding obligations or even to comply with a court order, to undermine the viability of companies, threaten jobs and jeopardize public transport on which so many are dependent.

Golden Arrow effectively finds itself in no better a position than it was prior to settlement discussions, initiated by government “at the doors of the court”, the settlement terms proposed and freely agreed by government or the Court Order handed down in its favour on the 15th January. It is also very apparent that bus operators in the other centres that have been forced to follow a similar litigation route taken by Golden Arrow in an effort to secure outstanding passenger subsidy claims may be faced with a similar hollow victory in the courts. There is little doubt that this unwarranted, unreasonable and inexplicable behaviour will put the provision of public bus services throughout the country in jeopardy and could have far more serious consequences than those in authority appear to appreciate.

Golden Arrow has, regrettably, once again been forced to approach the High Court for relief in an effort to compel government to comply with its basic constitutional duty to abide by the Order of Court of the 15th January 2009.

Issued by: B W Gie, Executive Director

Media enquiries: Vuyisile Mdoda

(021) 507 8819 or 083 279 4818

Date: 23 January 2009