MEC’s war on SA Roadlink ‘far from over’

2009-01-19 00:00

SA Roadlink continues to be a thorn in the side of the MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Bheki Cele, who said yesterday the battle with the bus company is not yet over.

Cele slammed the greediness of public transport operators who he said were killing innocent commuters on KwaZulu-Natal’s roads.

He was speaking at a briefing yesterday where he released the festive season’s accident statistics.

Cele said that overloading, speeding and unroadworthy vehicles were factors that contributed to the 290 fatalities during the festive season.

In five taxi accidents, 28 people were killed, 31 critically injured and 34 injured.

He urged public transport operators “not to put profit above the lives of their passengers”.

“These drivers are greedy; they overload and speed to get the next load. Because of their greediness, they also fail to check their vehicles, many of which should be suspended,” he said.

Cele called fatigued drivers “zombies” as many spent long hours on the road without eating or resting.

In a crackdown, 356 public transport vehicles were suspended; of these 179 were buses and 177 minibus taxis. A further seven buses and 46 taxis were impounded for permit-related offences.

Cele said that the SA Roadlink battle is “far, far from over”.

He said that it was not only Roadlink buses that are being targeted, but all long-distance buses that flout the rules of the road.

“Whoever thought that the matter has been withdrawn is wrong. The clouds are gathering and it will be a long, cold winter’s night for Roadlink soon,” he said.

The legal showdown between the operator and the Transport Department started in December, shortly after 11 people were killed in an accident involving a SA Roadlink bus.

On December 18, Cele announced a moratorium on all SA Roadlink operations in KZN.

The following day, the bus company lodged an urgent application with the high court challenging Cele’s decision.

The department was due to file an answering affidavit in court on that day, but failed to meet the deadline.

The judge ruled that the moratorium be suspended until arguments were heard. But Cele later withdrew the moratorium.

He would not comment further yesterday on the department’s legal battle with SA Roadlink .

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