Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) is serious about resolving student concerns, particularly the present unhappiness around the institution’s shuttle system.
This was the overriding message of NMMU Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr Sibongile Muthwa who addressed a group of unhappy students at the culmination of a march in front the university’s main building at lunch time today.
“We are very aware of your concerns and are serious about resolving matters,” Dr Muthwa told the DASO led group of students.
The students handed the DVC and the Acting Dean of Students Mr Mxolisi Ncapayi a memorandum of their grievances. This was after various organisers had voiced their displeasure at the present shuttle service to off-campus students. Among them was former SRC President Yusuf Cassim, who is the the Democratic Alliances Shadow Deputy Minister for Higher Education the Democratic Alliances Shadow Deputy Minister for Higher Education DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister for Higher Education in Parliament, and present SRC President Hlomela Bucwa.
Approximately 5 000 students make daily use of subsidised transport organised by the University.
The students’ complaints revolved mainly around overcrowding, lateness or failing to stop at designated stops altogether and “rude” treatment by some of the drivers. They claim that as a result many of them are late for class and that this impacted on their academic results.
The University had originally implemented a public transport plan in anticipation of the Metro’s integrated public transport system (IPTS) becoming operational. NMMU had planned to subsidise student fares on these buses. Uncertainty around the Metro’s plans regarding the roll-out of the IPTS has forced the University to revert to an alternative system – that of working with private contractors, including taxi operators. “In moving forward and sorting out the pressure points that have emerged, we are continuing negotiations with the relevant players.
“The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Derrick Swartz, is concerned about student welfare, and recognises that NMMU needs to explore ways of resolving these pressure points. We believe it is our social responsibility to do so. ” said Dr Muthwa, who commended the students in raising justified concerns.
She urged students to bring their complaints, especially those of intimidation and even assault, to the University so that it could carry out its own investigations. If service level agreements had been broken then the service provider needed to be held accountable. Equally important is for the students to behave responsibly, in line with NMMU values, when they use public transport.
“We are pleased that you have chosen to exercise your rights and you are encouraged to continue to hold us to account,” said Dr Muthwa.
The students have given management seven days in which to address their concerns.
Dr Sibongile Muthwa
Tel: +27 (0) 41 504 1111
Fax: +27 (0) 41 504 2574 / 2731
PO Box 77000, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Port Elizabeth, 6031, South Africa
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