By Bev Mortimer
More than 200 Sea Vista school children have been hitching to Humansdorp from St Francis Bay for the past four school days
Some of them and their mothers demonstrated their anger and concern at the traffic circle at the entrance of St Francis Bay.
It appears that bureaucratic ‘red tape’ regulations on the part of the Kouga Municipality and the Departments of Education and Transport has led to the ‘no transport’ situation. The bus permit and contract for allowing a bus company to transport the children to school and back has been made out in the wrong name and even though the bus is roadworthy, traffic officials won’t allow it on the road. And to add further red tape the Education and Traffic Departments are stalling or taking too long to provide another five year contract and permit in the correct name to the bus tour company.
The bus used to transport all the pupils in two trips both ways from Sea Vista to the Secondary High School in Aracdia Humansdorp and back each day did not arrive last Thursday, 8 February, and since then it has not arrived to fetch them. Children have been seen on the roads hitch-hiking for the past four mornings
Today some mothers of the children had had enough. They and the children marched to the traffic circle from St Vista to demonstrate their displeasure that their children had to hitch to school.
Mothers who spoke to St Francis Chronicle said it was dangerous for their children to hitch to school, especially for girls, but pupils no option as they would miss out on their education otherwise.
The mothers said they had had no prior warning that there would be no transport for their children. School principal, PH Pietersen did not want to talk to the press. The secretary told me to phone the Education Department and Road Transport Department. Both telephone numbers and an sms went unanswered all morning.
According to a spokesperson for the bus company, Van Rensburg Tours, the Kouga traffic department took the bus off the road. She said the company has a bus which has been transporting the children for five years. When the contract with the Department of Education expired new forms were filled in by the company to commence a new contract with the department. The department incorrectly made up a new contract in another name. Then the tour company was unable to get a permit and the bus was pulled off the road.
“Until bureaucratic officials sort out the correct paper work for the bus, children are being punished by not being able to get to school,” one motorist who stopped to give some children a lift said.
Photos by Bev Mortimer show some of the last kids getting a lift to school this morning by a kind St Francis Bay motorist, plus two others who could not take that last ride as the vehcile was too full.