Public transport provider, Putco, plans to retrench 214 employees. The company announced this on Thursday, citing financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is just one of bus companies that plan to cut jobs. On Wednesday, Greyhound announced that it would make its last trip on 15 February after almost four decades in operation.
Now Putco said like most bus companies, it has also been severely affected by COVID-19 that resulted in the decline in the number of passengers and causing loss of revenue.
“We scaled down our operations and only transported essential workers, whilst private hire and commercial contracts could not be operated. The regulations further required buses to carry no more than 50% of their licensed capacity in order to minimize exposure of passengers to Coronavirus. The revenue per trip was reduced significantly due to the reduction in the number of passengers
allowed on a bus, which resulted in trips operating at a loss,” said Putco in a statement.
The bus company said COVID-19 essentials have also increased their operating costs, while on the other hand revenue declined significantly.
“We had to bear the cost of buying Personal Protective Equipment and implement preventative measures to curb the spread of the virus. This includes disinfecting buses before and after each trip and sanitising each passenger when boarding a bus. This placed a huge financial burden on an industry that is already underfunded by government,” said Putco.
The company said it desperately needs financial relief and has been engaging with two government and Southern African Bus Operators Association (SABOA) since March last year about its plight.
“We are mindful of the sluggish economy and the impact on the fiscus, however we are not asking for new money. Instead we are requesting that part of the Public Transport Operations Grant (PTOG) allocation should be utilised for emergency relief to protect public transport," said Putco.
It said after numerous consultations, no relief has been forthcoming.