MAN powers shuttle service
Every year, the tiny maize-farming town of Bothaville comes alive to welcome visitors from South Africa and abroad to the Nampo Harvest Day festival. This year the town was ready, with their shuttle service sporting new MAN-sponsored buses.
With this year’s celebrations seeing a total of 68 900 guests descend on the show, the little town of Bothaville almost doubled in population during the four days of May when the festival was held. These visiting farming industry members and their families collectively spend R20 million each year in Bothaville on accommodation, transport and entertainment. This creates employment for many of the residents of Bothaville and the surrounding township, and boosts the economy of the usually sleepy little town.
However, 68 900 visitors plus one small town does not equal a planning heaven. These guests book out all beds within a 100 km radius of the showground, while parking space is filled to capacity, says Hettienne von Abo-Moolman, chairperson of Maize Capital Chamber of Commerce.
Given that the festival is expanding from year to year it made sense for the Afrikaner Handelsinstituut Chamber of Commerce in Bothaville to launch the Mielie Hop Shuttle Service, which it did in 2001. Von Abo-Moolman explains that, since the shuttle’s inception, Mielie Hop has expanded and now transports visitors from 21 locations including Pretoria, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Delmas and Kimberley. Overseas visitors are shuttled directly from OR Tambo International Airport.
All this expansion created a need for bus sponsorship and, in late 2009 when Von
Abo-Moolman called for such support, MAN Truck & Bus came to the rescue. The company furnished the organisers with two 79-seater MAN HB4 Lion’s Explorer buses and two 32-seater Volkswagen 9-150 midi-buses to supplement its fleet of Volkswagen 9-150 mini-buses for the duration of this year’s show.
According to Ray Karshagen, management board member at MAN Truck & Bus, MAN has a comprehensive corporate social investment programme in place. “Nampo is an ideal time to implement this programme, as the shuttle service we provide creates jobs for ticket-sellers, bus conductors and vehicle cleaning personnel,” he tells FOCUS.
“The ‘Mielie Hoppers’ also have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of business, from sales skills to communicating effectively with people from different countries and backgrounds,” says Von Abo-Moolman. This means a beneficial arrangement for everyone involved as jobs were created for the citizens of Bothaville, and MAN was able to display its products to a wide range of potential customers working in the agricultural sector. The buses certainly had plenty of opportunity to show off their strengths. Over the course of the event, the Mielie Hop shuttled hundreds of passengers and clocked up 12 000 km on the odometer.
MAN’s initiative earned positive feedback from the passengers too. Von Abo-Moolman reported that visitors were very impressed by the comfort of the buses as well as the professionalism of the drivers, who were provided by MAN Truck & Bus customer, Vaal Maseru Bus Services.