Truck  |  Corporate Responsibility  |  Bus 

MAN and Habana bring new shine to Mpumalanga Scholar Transport

In June 2010, the Mpumalanga Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport (MDPW) released a tender for the supply and management of 96 new buses to service 96 schools in the Ermelo/Gert Sibande metropolitan district.

Following an open and transparent bidding process, the five-year contract (effective from July 2011) was awarded to bus operator, Habana Trading (Habana), which has subsequently procured the necessary buses from MAN Truck & Bus SA.

At the official handover ceremony of the new scholar transport buses held at the AJ Swannepoel Stadium in Ermelo on the 6th of February 2013, Mpumalanga MEC, Mrs. MR Mhaule stated that, “the deployment of this new fleet of scholar transport buses by the MDPW follows extensive consultation with all stakeholders, including the Mpumalanga Department of Education, school bodies, parents and learners in the region.

“There was resounding consensus that new buses were necessary for both safety and reliability reasons. Furthermore, it was decided that having a single bus operator manage the scholar transport service in the district, as opposed to several subcontractors, was a more efficient method of improving the quality of our scholar transit service and lower its overall delivery costs. The new fleet will continue to offer its services to scholars free of charge.”

The rejuvenated Mpumalanga Scholar Transport fleet in the Ermelo/Gert Sibande municipal district is a pilot project for the province, added MEC Mhaule, and upon expiry of the contract with Habana, the buses would become the property of the respective school bodies.

The buses making up the new fleet include the MAN Lion’s Explorer HB1 18.240, its sister model, the HB2 18.240 and the VW Volksbus 17.210.

The MAN HB1 and HB2 derivatives are equipped with a six-cylinder MAN Euro 3 common-rail diesel engine delivering 176kW (240hp) at 2 400 rpm with a torque displacement of 925Nm at 1 200-1 800rpm. The HB1 is fitted with a ZF six-speed manual transmission, while the HB2 is equipped with a four-speed automatic Voith gearbox. Both derivatives come standard with sophisticated braking technologies: ABS, EBS, ASR and CPB, as well as a Voith intarder for additional safety.

The VW Volkbus 17.210 is designed for optimum performance on the off-tar areas of Mpumalanga and is equipped with full steel suspension (semi-elliptical at the front and dual-stage semi-elliptical at the rear). The drivetrain comprises a six-cylinder Euro 2 diesel engine with a power rating of 151 kW (206hp) at 2 600 rpm, a torque displacement of 657Nm at 1 700 rpm and a six-speed Eaton manual transmission. Braking systems include full air "S"- cam drum service brakes front and rear, a parking brake and an engine/exhaust valve brake.

According to Habana co-director, Suliman Paruk, “MAN is the bus market leader in South Africa and apart from the sophistication of its buses, the company has the capacity to facilitate the financing of a large procurement such as this. Furthermore, MAN is also the only bus manufacturer in South Africa with its own body-building facility. This one-stop-shop approach not only helped speed up delivery of the 96 units but also helped lower production costs.”

The region the buses will cover comprises 280 routes, making it the most extensive passenger transit network in Mpumalanga. Paruk added that each bus would travel approximately 1500km per month and be serviced by MAN’s dealership in Ermelo.

“Fuel efficiency is a top priority for all commercial transport operators and both the MAN Lion’s Explorer and VW units are performing exceptionally well with consumption figures around 38-litres per 100km on the MAN units and 33-litres per 100km on the VW buses,” Paruk stated.

The buses all seat 65 passengers and are built with comfort and safety in mind. Seats are well padded with resilient synthetic covers and are all fitted with seatbelts. To comply with stringent EU and SA safety codes, the coach bodies are built around a super-strong roll-over cage and have emergency exits in the roof.

“The new MAN and VW scholar buses are all on a Full-Maintenance Contract with MAN to cover the contract period. They are also backed by MAN’s market-leading three-year/200 000 km driveline warranty and a five-year anti-corrosion warranty on the bus bodies,” explained Paruk. “Cost-efficiency was a key factor of the tender and MAN has delivered a package that offers lowest total-cost-of-ownership, unmatched cost-predictability and peace-of-mind.”

Attending the hand-over event was MAN Truck & Bus SA’s bus division CEO, Ray Karshagen, who concluded that, “apart from the size of the deal, valued at R118m, being part of this public-private partnership is yet another significant milestone for MAN in South Africa. It is encouraging to see the roll-out of service-delivery in this manner and all of us at MAN are proud to have been selected as the prime carrier for thousands of scholars in the region. We look forward, in conjunction with Suliman and his Habana partners, Wesley Tendaupenyu and Vulani Mabunda, to rolling out more MAN and VW buses as the Mpumalanga Scholar Transport programme expands. We hope too, that other provinces follow suit.”