Dear valued Stakeholders,
It’s that time when the end of yet another year is almost upon us. The year 2022 is almost over, and it is once again a privilege to present to you with the final edition of Mopalami for the year. It is unbelievable how quickly time passes, and who would think that the time to reflect on the journey we’ve taken with you during this year, would come so soon?
Allow me to express our sincere and heartfelt gratitude to you at the outset of this message, for granting all of us at Interstate Bus Lines an opportunity to serve you again this year. We at Interstate Bus Lines, Ya Rona, are grateful for the opportunity to make a valuable contribution to your life this year, and we hope to continue to be of service to you in the coming years, as well as the greater community of the Mangaung metropolitan municipal area.
We are proud that we were once again able to meet the expectations of the majority of our loyal passengers with an operational service rate of 99.8%. The aforementioned service level claim can be verified by an independent monitoring consultancy firm that has been appointed by the Department of Police, Roads and Transport to monitor our service delivery and impose penalties where service levels are not met.
On the other hand, we continue to face challenges such as poor road infrastructure, and in this case, I know that I might sound like a scratched CD because this is an issue I have been raising for more than ten years now. Another challenge is escalating bus prices, which hit us hard because we need to annually replace a number of our older buses in order to continue providing a reliable service. Buses currently cost a whopping R3.3 million for a rigid bus and R4.8 million for a train-bus.
We spend between R38m and R40m per year just on bus replacement to keep our fleet up to standard which is acceptable and also ensures the safety of our loyal passengers. During the current year, apart from the regular bus replacement program, we procured a number of Truck Buses for service delivery in the Thaba Nchu Rural areas. We were forced to withdraw the regular buses as we could not afford the ongoing maintenance costs. We were forced to choose between two options due to the ever-deteriorating road infrastructure and the lack of immediate and long-term government intervention to stop the services in that area or to change the bus model.
Stopping service to the North and South Rural communities, was a non-viable option due to the lack of alternative transportation in those communities. We thus decided to replace all buses with all-wheel drive Truck Buses with increased seating capacity. Our Technical team went through an arduous process of homologation and approval of the custom-made Truck Buses, and luckily, we received the delivery before the onset of the rainy season.
We have recently learned through the media of one of the provinces that procured donkey carts for its rural areas, and we are proud to say that we as Interstate Bus Lines, did not wait until this had to happen, but instead innovated the all-wheel drive custom made Truck Buses as a better alternative. We are, however, praying for our government to prioritize rural areas like Thaba Nchu and to adequately invest in re-graveling and tarring of transport roads so that we can resume serving our customers with regular commuter buses.
Furthermore, it is with a heavy heart that I write about the tragic bus and truck accident that occurred on 10 November 2022, in which we sadly lost nine valuable lives. We lost both the Truck Driver and the Bus Driver, as well as seven female passengers in this tragic accident, while several other passengers suffered serious to minor injuries and were treated at nearby hospitals. As a company, we would like to express our heartfelt condolences to all of the families of the deceased, and we continue to pray for the quick recovery and healing of all of the injured passengers who were involved in the accident.
We were able to assist all families in burying their loved ones with dignity thanks to our insurance company, and we also provided trauma debriefing to all other passengers with the help of FAMSA. At the time of writing, we were still awaiting the SAPS report, as well as the final report of the external accident reconstruction expert we had hired as a company. Given the scope and severity of the accident, we will be unable to express our opinion for the time being.
As the year comes to a close, and without diminishing the magnitude of the aforementioned painful accident, we would like to thank all of our bus drivers for following good driving habits taught to them by our dedicated and passionate Driver Instructors. We are one of the few companies in the country with a TETA-accredited Driver Training Center staffed by knowledgeable and dedicated Driver Instructors who are solely focused on producing highly trained Bus Drivers.
All our Bus Drivers are taken through a rigorous driver training programme upon appointment and annually have to undergo refresher training. The training approach is a holistic one that focuses on not only driving skills but includes amongst others, a focus on the health status of our drivers.
As the year comes to a close, we remain full of HOPE and look forward to improving our service to the loyal customers of Interstate Bus Lines, as well as continuing with worthy community investment initiatives that continue to change the lives of the youth, people with disabilities and beneficiaries from diverse backgrounds.
We pride ourselves in having changed the lives of a number of young people through our CSI initiatives of IBL Soccer League and the Saturday Extra Classes targeting grades 10 to 12 offered by Grace Education Academy, Monyetla Saturday School, Central University of the Free State Enactus SA champs, various other initiatives that we undertook this year. We THANK YOU our loyal commuters for having made it possible for us to undertake and support those worthy causes.
In conclusion, may I take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude for your support during the current year, 2022, and from all the personnel members of Interstate Bus Lines, The IBL Family, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2023. Those travelling for the December holidays, remember that you are valuable to your families and always make sure that you contribute to the reduction of fatalities on our roads by driving responsibly and behaving responsibly. Those who will be staying at home, continue to burn the flame of LOVE, PEACE and GIVING not only to your families but to those who are less privileged as well. We love you all. Merry Christmas and a happy new year.