Bus companies could get tougher laws

2010-01-19 14:51

The recent furore over unsafe buses, combined with the prospect of

foreign tourists needing to get around the country during the 2010 World Cup,

has led the Department of Transport to seek tougher legislation in order to take

bus companies that flout the laws off the road.

Western Cape Transport MEC Robin Carlisle has been strident in

seeking tougher action on recalcitrant bus companies.

The move comes on the back of ongoing controversy involving

unroadworthy buses, with eight SA Roadlink buses having been removed from the

roads in the Western Cape recently.

At a media briefing Carlisle said his office had considered banning

bus operators who consistently broke road traffic laws, but that this was

outside the powers of provincial government.

Carlisle said bus operators who “consistently disregard the law and

place human life at risk” should be banned, but an initial analysis of the

National Land Transport Act indicated this was beyond the provincial

government’s scope.

“It’s trouble enough when these buses break the traffic laws when

they transport our people, when it’s the soccer World Cup we can’t afford to

have an accident where, lets say, a bus had about 50 foreign tourists.”

Department spokesperson Logan Maistry said the department was aware

of the lack of legislative power to “sort out” bus operators who broke the

law.

Maistry said the department was not reviewing the legislature

simply because of World Cup fears, but because “we want safety on our

roads”.

In the meantime the Western Cape transport and community safety

departments have announced four measures to combat road fatalities.

According to a joint statement by Carlisle and community safety MEC

Lennit Max, enforcement officers will continue to suspend the operation of all

vehicles found to be unroadworthy and a safety risk.

This will be backed up with criminal charges, with a successful

prosecution resulting in an operator being liable to a fine or imprisonment not

exceeding six years. Carlisle said discussions with the provincial NPA to

facilitate the process had already begun.

By the end of next month facilities and staff would be in place to

effect a 24/7 inspection of all transport entering and leaving the province on

the N1 at the Beaufort West weigh-bridge and on the N2 at the Swellendam

weigh-bridge.

Section 50 of the National Road Traffic Act will be used to

document and investigate all serious and repeat transgressions. These will be

made available to the Provincial Operating Licencing Board (POLB) so operating

licences cannot be issued to serial transgressors.

Max said: “Let it be clear that bus operators who allow unsafe

buses or drunk drivers to put public safety at risk are in our sightlines and

their days are truly numbered.”

SA Roadlink CEO Allan Reddy, who met with the two MEC’s prior to

the press briefing, claimed that his company was being victimised.

“There is a total misconception by the media because it is not just

our buses that are found to be unroadworthy, and our buses go through a routine

check before they go out on a trip.”

He said the company was willing to work with the provincial

government.

– West Cape News


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