The transport department has fully complied with a recent court order instructing it to pay R126 million in subsidies to Gauteng bus operators, MPs heard on Tuesday.
Briefing the National Assembly’s transport committee, transport department director general Mpumi Mpofu said the national department had forwarded the money to the Gauteng department.

“This morning I phoned the Gauteng department of transport and was told the R126-million owed to Gauteng operators has been paid,” she said.

The R94-million owed to the Western Cape bus operator, Golden Arrows, has also been paid.

The money paid to the Gauteng bus operators was only for the subsidies owed for November 2008. Mpofu could not say when the subsidies owed for December, January and February would be paid.

The national department of transport had instructed its provincial departments to approach their respective finance department for additional funding.

“There is a need for provincial departments to adopt flexible arrangements to avert the crisis,” she said.

This could entail diverting money from other programmes to make funds available for the subsidy fund.

Government is currently embroiled in a court battle with bus operators after defaulting on subsidy payments to the tune of R1,2-billion.

Mpofu attributed the government’s failure to meet its contractual obligations with operators to high passenger volumes and the escalation of fuel costs.

“We have not been able to align our budgets to meet these increases,” she said.

However, Mpofu said the department had put measures in place to ensure it did not default on its contractual obligations in future.

This included doing away with interim contracts in favour of more predictable negotiated contracts. – Sapa

Source: IOL online – SAPA