Golden Arrow fears the skills shortage in the commuter bus sector, including a national shortage of 7 000 drivers, is not only going to affect the city’s hosting of 2010 World Cup games, but other operations too.
In its quarterly journal, Interchange, the bus company said the skills shortage “ravaging” the industry was putting pressure on its learning and assessment centre.

“This facility’s primary function is to produce qualified bus drivers as well as the technical staff needed to maintain the bus operation. As the only facility of its kind in the area, it has the daunting task of keeping up with the growing demand for qualified personnel,” it said.

With the country preparing for the 2010 World Cup, the need for qualified drivers was even greater, the company said.

“Nowhere is this (skills shortage) more evident than in the commuter bus transport sector, where it is estimated (there is) a national shortage of 7 000 drivers,” Golden Arrow said.

Experience had proved that a good public transport service was essential in hosting a successful tournament.

“The shortage of skilled and qualified personnel is cause for concern, even beyond 2010.”

Earlier this year, the SA Bus Operators’ Association (Saboa) said the industry was battling with a chronic shortage of drivers, and with the World Cup two years away this posed a major challenge in public transport preparations.

“If this state of affairs goes unchecked, it could have a crippling effect on the industry as a whole,” Golden Arrow said.

In the past six months, the Learning and Assessment Centre had seen a record intake.

Saboa said it could take up to a year to train a driver.

Source: Cape Times – Babalo Ndenze