Doubts about N3 crash bus

2007-12-24 00:00

Authorities are investigating whether the double decker Lux-Liner bus that slammed into a stationary truck, killing 10 people near Estcourt on Saturday morning, should have been on the road at all, following its recent alleged purchase from Intercape Mainliner.

Police and accident reconstruction experts from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) and the Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE), sifted through the wreckage as part of the intensive investigation team.

Transport Department spokesman Colin Govender said the accident occurred in the early hours of Saturday morning, on the N3 south-bound. More than 72 people, including a baby, were on the Lux-liner bus, which carried mainly miners from Rustenburg going to the Eastern Cape for Christmas.

“According to the truck driver, he was parked on the side of the road after experiencing clutch problems when the driver of the bus collided with the truck,” said Govender.

Nine passengers were killed instantly, while 27 were taken to hospital, where one later died, bringing the death toll to 10.

“The bus actually split into two, resulting in the left-side being torn away and landing on the inside of the empty container carried by the truck. The people on that side were the ones who sustained the most serious injuries.”

Last Christmas Eve, 12 people were killed and 34 injured when a Roadlink bus ploughed into a bridge on the N3 at Pietermaritzburg.

Investigations into that crash are still under way.

Meanwhile, Govender said there seems to be controversy surrounding the eligibility of the Lux-liner bus to be on the road on Saturday and it is unclear if safety protocols were followed.

It appears that the owners of the Lux-liner bus recently bought the bus from InterCape Mainliner.

The parties agreed that the bus would not be used until the whole transaction and deal was approved, said Govender, but this appears not to have been the case.

“The SAPS and the experts from RTMC and IRTE have been called to undertake the gathering of information and find out from both companies, the management of InterCape and the owners of the Lux-liner, if protocol was followed. They will cover every aspect of the collision, leaving no stone unturned in order to assist the SAPS when the docket goes through the judiciary system,” said Govender.

The bus is still allegedly registered under Intercape’s name.

Attempts to contact Intercape’s management for comment were unsuccessful.

An employee who answered the phone and refused to give his name said the company had no comment since the bus was sold three to four months ago.

No further reports of overnight deaths had been reported, and both drivers were uninjured, Govender said.

“Both drivers were tested for alcohol consumption and tested negative.

“A case of 10 counts of culpable homicide will be investigated against the driver of the bus,” he added.

Transport MEC Bheki Cele went to the scene on Saturday, and later visited those in the hospital at Estcourt and offered condolences to the bereaved families.

The road remained closed for more than 10 hours and traffic had to be redirected, Govender said.

sphumem@witness.co.za

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