SA Roadlink sends defective bus to fetch survivors after accident

2009-07-09 00:00

THE SA Roadlink bus in which seven people were killed on Tuesday did not have a permit for the N1 route.

Furthermore, the bus sent by SA Roadlink to take the uninjured passengers to Cape Town, was taken off the road because it was not roadworthy.

The passengers eventually completed their journey in a bus supplied by another company.

“SA Roadlink’s buses should never have been on the N1 via Beaufort West,” said Western Cape Transport spokesman Xenophone Wentzel. “The company has a permit for the route from Johannesburg via Pretoria, Upington and Springbok.”

The bus overturned outside Beaufort West at about 6 am on Tuesday when the driver apparently fell asleep. Seven passengers were killed, three seriously injured and another 38 less seriously hurt.

Beaufort West traffic chief Willie van Rooyen said the replacement bus sent by Roadlink was tested and taken off the road.

He said the brakes were taking un­evenly, the tyres were bald, the bonnet was held closed with rope and the headlights were faulty.

The driver’s public driver’s permit had also expired.

He confirmed that the company does not have a route permit for the N1. He added that the driver of the replacement bus told the passengers he was very tired.

It is against the law for a driver to work for more than eight hours, and buses that travel through the night must have replacement drivers.

A passenger, Abdul Ngom, told Die Burger yesterday that just before the accident, the driver was going very fast. “The next moment the bus swayed and landed on its side,”

Despite seven phone calls and an e-mail, SA Roadlink declined to comment yesterday. Company spokeswoman Mapaseka Mashele declined to answer questions when telephoned in the morning, and the phone was put down on several subsequent occasions.

Meanwhile, the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) called yesterday for a public boycott of SA Roadlink.

Satawu called for severe action to be taken against SA Roadlink.

“Satawu is of the view that if Roadlink is not stopped from operating on South African roads, their contribution to carnage and death will continue,” said general secretary Randall Howard.

SA Roadlink has said they will conduct an internal investigation, but this was rejected by Satawu, which said “the possibility of manipulated outcomes to ensure their continued operations” exists.

 

• December 2006: nine SA Roadlink buses suspended for being unroadworthy.

• December 24, 2006 : a Roadlink bus crashes into a bridge near the Liberty Midlands Mall, leaving 12 passengers dead. The driver of the bus is charged with 12 cases of culpable homicide, but acquitted due to lack of evidence and the discovery of a burst rear tyre.

• June 2008: an SA Roadlink bus overturns on the N3 near Pinetown and 43 passengers are hurt.

• December 2008: the driver of a Roadlink bus is arrested in KZN for drinking and driving.

• December 2008: a Roadlink bus collides with a stationary bus on the N3 near Balgowan, critically injuring 13 passengers.

• December 2008: a Roadlink bus collides with a Toyota Camry carrying six people on the N2 near Hibberdene. All six passengers of the car die, as well as five passengers of the Roadlink bus.

• March 2009: an SA Roadlink bus is gutted by fire after a tyre burst in the Umkomaas Valley.

After the December accident, KZN Transport MEC Bheki Cele withdrew SA Roadlink’s licence to operate in KZN, but after a legal battle, was forced to withdraw the ban. — WR.

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