Cape Town – If you thought the “new” electric buses launched in July by Golden Arrow Bus Services (Gabs) looked familiar, you were right.

Transport and Public Works MEC Daylin Mitchell said in a response to a written question from Good party MPL Brett Herron that the two electric buses were not actually “new”.

Mitchell also said that his department played no part in the transaction, which was between Gabs, the Chinese bus manufacturer BYD and the uYilo Kick Start Fund that is financing the pilot project.

Herron had queried the nature of the transaction that led to the buses being procured by Gabs.

“The City paid a deposit to BYD for the buses of about R60 million. If the City partially paid for the buses which were registered in the name of the City, and then the City refused to take delivery of them, and BYD is now selling them directly to Golden Arrow, did the City get its deposit back and what happened about the BEE certificate?” asked Herron.

City Spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo admitted that the City had paid a deposit, but that this had been refunded in full. As for the issue of the BEE certificate, he said after the refund it was no longer relevant.

Gabs spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer said: “Our interaction with BYD, as a private company, was completely separate to the City’s earlier interactions. We bear no knowledge of the finer detail of the interactions between BYD and the City of Cape Town.”

Before the tender with the City for the buses was cancelled in 2018, one of the problems that emerged was that the drive motors of these electrical buses were not powerful enough to handle Cape Town’s hilly terrain.

However, Dyke-Beyer said this was no longer a problem.

“Gabs has partnered with BYD and uYilo to test two 100% electric buses for a 12 month period.

“For the first six months we rigorously tested the buses in a range of circumstances without passengers, using weighted sandbags to simulate various loading capacity scenarios. The aim was to get to know exactly how these vehicles perform before incorporating them into our operations.

“This testing included numerous fully laden trips on Hospital Bend, Tygerberg Hill and Polkadraai Road to Stellenbosch. No concerns or issues regarding the vehicles’ performance were detected during these trials,” said Dyke-Beyer.

Source: Cape Argus : mwangi.githahu@inl.co.za