Today marked an important milestone for Nelson Mandela Bay with the official launch of the Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) and opening of the newly constructed bus depot in Cleary Park.
This ends a decade of maladministration, corruption and fraud by our predecessors, which had prevented the buses from rolling. Residents will no longer be deprived of safe and affordable public transport, with this coalition government having delivered on its promise to launch the previously beleaguered IPTS.
The maiden trip from Cleary Park to the Govan Mbeki Avenue CBD this morning proceeded smoothly, without any glitches, an indication that new green shoots were beginning to emerge after 8 years of stalling and rampant maladministration, which derailed the project.
The IPTS is a national government legacy project which was conceptualised before the 2010 Soccer World Cup to ensure that host cities had world-class transport systems. However, over the years, millions of rands pumped into the project to get it off the ground were unaccounted for due to maladministration.
In 2016, the fleet was left in a state of ruin in a storage facility in Markman, where vandals broke the windows and tires were either cracked or totally damaged due to being exposed to the elements.
To ensure the safety of this investment, the Municipality recently completed building a depot in Cleary Park where all the buses are now safely secured. We will soon build shelters in the depot to prevent the fleet from any damage as a result of bad elements.
As part of our commitment as this administration, we have since revitalised the entire fleet and all the buses are now roadworthy. As such, we have handed them over to the service provider to begin the process of rolling them out for the benefit of our City.
Special provision has been made for pensioners and students, in the form of a 20% discount. However, students will qualify for a discount only if they can produce their student cards. Members of the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) and Metro Police will get a free pass to ensure there is constant security in the bus.
The buses will roll out of the depot at 5am tomorrow, from Cleary Park to the CBD, and commuters will receive two weeks’ free tickets to ascertain if the route covered and time schedule fit their traveling itinerary.
Once the contracts with taxi operators and any glitches have been addressed and the system is up and running, the buses will be rolled out along other routes, such as Njoli, Motherwell and Uitenhage.
We would like to reiterate that this transport system belongs to Metro residents and we encourage people to safeguard this investment against vandalism.
The launch of this project also ensures that the administration delivers on its promise of creating jobs through building a new industry. This is being fulfilled through the employment of taxi drivers, who are now part of the operation, including conductors, who now man the ticketing system.