Public transport travel, a nightmare

16th April 2018
IN TATTERS: This is the face of some of the kombis we pay for service Source:The Midweek Sun

Travelling by public transport has turned into a nightmare for most passengers. If it is not the dirty, torn car seats and safety belts, it is the loud music or the overloading. For daily public transport commuters, nothing is more painful than being dressed in classy and fancy wear only to be squeezed in seats simply because the drivers want to make an extra buck by overloading. Overloading is a common phenomenon during rush hours (morning and evenings) because passengers will be having limited options to refuse the unfair treatment.

As if that is not enough, there will be loud music banging in these vehicles, with dysfunctional windows and doors that are a struggle to open. It does not help the passengers that the government recently increased bus fares by 20% effective 1st April 2018. While the development is a good one for the transport business, customers affected by the circumstances feel the pinch. The last time the fares were reviewed was in 2012 and according to Department of Roads, Transport and Safety (DRTS), the adjustment was meant to cater for the high cost and maintenance of the transport industry. Asked about the unpleasing state of public transport locally despite the latest review of bus fares, Acting Director of DRTS Godwin Tlhogo said that they always do inspections every six months to check if all public transport vehicles are roadworthy. He added that there is an inspectorate division that physically checks all passenger transport. He said there are laws and regulations that govern public transport.

Tlhogo said there have been instances when some kombis or even taxis were removed from the road during enforcement operations while others were fined depending on the nature of offences committed. Another DRTS official who preferred anonymity said sometimes drivers try to cheat the system and always borrow/use new car parts during the DRTS inspection and return them to the owners once the process is complete. This explains the many un-roadworthy cars in the market. The official advised that even though drivers are often the targets of blame, the customer also has a part to play. He advised that all should find ways of building a healthy relationship. Meanwhile public transport owners argue that their vehicles are not in a healthy state because passengers themselves vandalise the vehicles. They argued that most customers want to tag their heavy luggage along and they are forced to assist them or run at a loss. Some of these luggages cause the tears found on the car seats and it is expensive to replace on a daily basis.

They argue that most passengers drink and eat inside public transport vehicles, spill and leave the cars dirty. "We try to keep our cars clean everyday, if you go around you will find men busy at work washing their cars because we know that our Professional Driving Permits (PRDP 'P') can be revoked if we are careless," said Jeremiah Lesung who operates on the Mmopane route. Lesung argued that students often make funny markings on the back of the seats and sometimes mess the seats with ink. Responding to the issue of loud music being played in their cars, Setlhare Kobo of Gabane-Game City said customers should be free to openly tell the driver to reduce his radio volume if it is too loud. He said normally it is the younger drivers that get carried away by loud music.

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