Govt to pay bus subsidies in full

The first portion of a total of R1,2-billion in bus subsidies is to be paid next week, the Pretoria High Court heard on Friday.

Legal counsel for the South African Bus Operators Association (Saboa), Paul Pretorius SC, said the first payment in bus subsidies would be paid next Friday.

This was the subsidy for the month of December.

This came after a settlement in court by the parties involved — bus operators and government — was reached in a packed courtroom.

The remaining figure for the months January to March would be paid in monthly instalments thereafter, said Pretorius.

”We’re delighted, this is exactly what we wanted in terms of our demands and that is, that funds be made available for bus subsidies for the period of December 2008 up to the end of March 2009.

”So now operators can continue offering services knowing that they will be paid on a monthly basis,” executive manager of Saboa, Eric Cornelius, said outside court.

He said the first payment would be paid to Gauteng operators, then again on the 20th of each month.

For other provinces they have to be paid in terms of their contracts. The funds are available for them to be paid and they will be paid in terms of their contract provisions.

As to how much Gauteng operators were going to be paid next week, Cornelius said: ”If you take the Gauteng operators, the amount is in the region of R120-million.”

Commenting on the ruling, South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) national sector coordinator, Assaria Mataboge, said he was happy about the ruling in that operators would get their payments, which will then help the industry.

He said he hoped government would honour the ruling.

Referring to bus operators, Mataboge said: ”They must also honour their contracts with government.”

He added that the industry had a total of about 115 contracts. Of those, 77 belonged to Saboa members.

”So those 77 contracts will be paid,” he said as a group of Satawu members in red T-shirts danced outside court.

They would assess whether to go ahead with their planned protests on the issue.

This after the transport union on Thursday said it would protest against government’s failure to pay outstanding bus subsidies.

On Wednesday the association and the Department of Transport could not come to an agreement after Treasury objected to the conditions of the settlement. — Sapa

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