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Opportunity Issue 99

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Opportunity magazine is a niche business-to-business publication that explores various investment opportunities within Southern Africa’s economic sectors and looks to provide its readers with first-hand knowledge about South African business. Opportunity also looks to present South African business to international markets that may have interests in investing in South Africa. The publication is endorsed by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI).

TRANSPORT ZULULAND BUS

TRANSPORT ZULULAND BUS SERVICE EYES NATIONAL ROUTE EXPANSION Entrepreneurship runs in the Sithole family. Mdu Sithole has been expanding and improving the business his father began since 2005. A transport brand that stands tall in KwaZulu-Natal might soon become a nationally recognised marque. Zululand Bus Service has provided transport services in the areas around Emangeni, Nongoma, Richards Bay and Ulundi for decades, earning a reputation for reliability and safety in the process. Now, owner Mduduzi Sithole has announced plans to buy the well-known Greyhound Bus company. He told SABC that he anticipated that in the months after the worst of the Covid-19 epidemic “long-distance is going to be more open now” and that people would “become more comfortable” with the idea of travelling in buses. “We are putting a comprehensive proposal together with various funding institutions,” said Sithole. He added, “The Greyhound brand is a good brand.” Both Greyhound and Citiliner announced that they intended auctioning off their vehicles after Greyhound announced in February 2021 that it had halted operations. Sithole’s plan involves reemploying Greyhound staff as far as possible and integrating the new operations into the already-sizable fleet that he runs. Zululand Bus Service currently has 80 buses and four depots with a staff complement of more than 200. His national ambitions of expansion in no way interfere with Sithole’s feelings about the province that nurtured the business. “KwaZulu-Natal is the province that has put us on the map, for which I am eternally grateful." As CEO of Zululand Bus Service, Sithole’s vision is to see the business grow from strength to strength. Inspired by the example of his father battling to build and prosper through the years, he aspires to grow it into an inter-provincial bus operation, competing in more spheres of business in the transport industry. “I would like to see what has been built become a third-generation legacy, which serves the interest of the communities it services into years beyond my existence,” he explains. “I would also like to see the company become a cost-effective mode of transport which ventures into the long-distance market.” A recent investment in 10 new vehicles shows that he is willing to walk the walk when it comes to plans to expand. In 2020, an investment was made by Zululand Bus Service in four Iveco Afriway 80-seater buses and six Iveco Afriway 65-seater buses. 22 | www.opportunityonline.co.za

TRANSPORT According to Sithole, each bus is worth about R2.5-million but the investment was absolutely worth it, in his eyes, particularly as the new buses will provide an extra level of safety for bus users. Diverse markets Sithole’s primary contract is currently with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport. “The Department has empowered a lot of emerging entrepreneurs and black bus operators through a subsidy system and negotiated contracts,” he says. “I must applaud the KZN Department of Transport for investing in us, and we will not disappoint them. “They have made us; they have believed in us and weathered the storms with us. I would like to see the growth of the African entrepreneur and black African bus operator in KZN.” Another opportunity that Sithole seized with both hands was to service ZAC mine over the last nine years. “Mr Vuslat Bayglou, the CEO of Menar and current owner of ZAC, as well as Mr Bradley Hammond have been exemplary in engaging local contractors for business, and I have been fortunate to be a part of this well-orchestrated institution. I am eternally grateful to them for the opportunity.” Other markets served by Zululand Bus Service include: scholars, factory workers, shoppers, pensioners and clinic and hospital visitors, as well as the private-hire market for funerals and weddings. Zululand Bus Service is a familiar and trusted brand that has a considerable positive impact on local communities. “We have serviced many communities in the Zululand area and outside of the Zululand area over the years. People knew the Sithole buses from my father’s time. They understood it to be a safe, reliable and affordable mode of transport in the area and the region,” says Sithole. The company has supported soccer tournaments, local schools, local activities, chiefs and chiefdoms, scholarships and many needy families and businesses. The result is a long-lasting local legacy. When the company purchased new buses, commuters and drivers alike were overjoyed to have a safer, more comfortable mode of transport. Customer service is a non-negotiable priority for Sithole. “Passengers bring in the revenue and thus they remain the kings and queens of the business. The service levels must be at optimum level where customers are priority and clean and efficient buses become the order of the day,” he says. “In the same breath, the business has become fool-proof to abuse from a customer perspective. There has to be a balance, and we must Credit: Truck Centre Durban www.opportunityonline.co.za | 23

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