GEORGE NEWS - The much anticipated George Community Forum (GCF) march planned for this Friday, 26 April, has been postponed.
The postponement was confirmed by GCF chairman Xolisani Booi yesterday morning, Wednesday 24 April.
Booi said they needed more time to mobilise the communities across George. "We are not cancelling the march, we are postponing it until further notice. We did not have enough time to engage the communities to explain to them the reasons for the march.
"If the community isn't ready, we aren't ready. The march is not only about the transport, but also about other service delivery issues.
"In this regard, we need the support of the communities," he said.
The march was organised to protest against the roll-out of Phase 4B of the Go George bus service to Conville, Parkdene, Ballotsview, Borcherds and Lawaaikamp this coming Sunday.
George Municipality, in partnership with the Western Cape Government, announced earlier this month that the buses will start operating in these areas on Sunday 28 April. The implementation of Phase 4A has been put on ice after talks with the relevant stakeholders in Thembalethu were unsuccessful.
Nzimande said that, after receiving a letter from Grant informing him of the intended roll-out, he has requested the Western Cape Provincial Government to suspend plans to roll out Phase 4B.
In response, Grant called Nzimande's statement "unfortunate and premature". "The release of this press statement is ill-considered given the fact that my department and the municipality of George have a very close working relationship with the national Department of Transport. In fact, we have continued to engage the national Department of Transport throughout on the timing and implementation of the further roll-out of the Go George bus services."
Nzimande was due to arrive in George yesterday for a two-day visit on the campaign trail and also to familiarise himself with all the aspects of the roll-out. Yesterday Bazil Petrus, the chairperson of the George council committee for the GIPTN, also issued a statement requesting that due consideration must be given to the plight of the poorest communities. He said public transport must be expanded to the rest of the areas that do not enjoy the convenience of the bus service.
"George Municipality was reprimanded by the national Department of Transport to either roll out another phase of the bus system or to face the prospect of the national grant funding being withdrawn. The decision was then taken by the George council to roll out Phase 4B in order to ensure the due spending of the grant funding while continuing to engage with all stakeholders."
Petrus added that he welcomed Nzimande's planned visit to George and his assistance with the current consultative process to ensure future progressive roll-outs of the next Go George phases.
Asked if province will be suspending the roll-out of Phase 4B as per Nzimande's request, Grant's spokesperson Siphesihle Dube said the roll-out will continue on Sunday as planned.
He said it is critical to note that the roll-out is a question of service delivery, and during the community engagement in George it has been clear that the Go George bus service must be extended to provide residents with a better service.
"Government continues to monitor these issues, and we will continue to engage all relevant stakeholders and community members in George in order to ensure we implement the bus service effectively," said Dube.
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