Bankruptcy Looms for South Africa’s Bus Companies

Thousands of employees in the bus industry could lose their jobs if government fails to pay operators millions of rands in subsidies owed to them, MPs heard on Tuesday. Briefing the National Assembly's transport committee, Southern Africa Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) representative Jane Barrett said many bus operators would close shop unless the government paid all outstanding subsidies within a week's time, the Independent Online reported. "If payment is not made within the next week, 26 000 bus workers are in danger of losing their jobs. The Southern Africa Bus Operators Association (Saboa) had embarked on a court action against the department of transport as well as other relevant government departments in a bid to force the state to pay close to R1,2-billion in subsidies owed to its members. Provincial transport departments are said to have told operators in their respective provinces in November 2008 that subsidies would not be paid from December to March, until Finance Minister Trevor Manuel outlined the new budget in April. "All indications are that if government fails to pay up the subsidies by the end of January, most affected bus companies will have to close," Barrett said. Read more.