BHISHO has again extended a controversial multimillion-rand contract with a private company to ferry thousands of Eastern Cape schoolchildren.
This is the third time the contract has been extended, and a tender advertised three months ago for a new company to carry out the service has now been cancelled indefinitely.
However, Somila Consulting Agency, which claims to have been on the verge of winning the new contract, plans to challenge this latest extension with the Eastern Cape Bus and Taxi Chamber's (ECBTC) One Future Development 46 consortium.
Bixie Mkutu, one of the directors of the ECBTC who raised the alarm in June over One Future Development 46's alleged misuse of funds, also plans to go to court in an attempt to freeze the consortium's bank account.
The company has scored close to R1-billion from the provincial government since July 2011, when the pupil transport programme was moved from the Education Department to fall within Transport's ambit of responsibility.
ECBTC spokesman Ntsizakalo Ngalo and Transport spokesman Ncedo Kumbaca both confirmed the pupil transport contract had been extended, but would not disclose details of the contract nor how much it was worth. "The contract contains the same details ... We are changing the administration [of it] and our providers will not be earning peanuts," Ngalo said.
The developments come despite allegations by family members who have had children injured or who have died while being transported by taxis and buses registered with the company. They have claimed that no passenger liability money has been paid out.
Ngalo disputed the claims that no passenger liability funds had been paid out.
"That's a lie. There may be one or a few such cases but we are attending to those."