SA ROADLINK – We will get you there... Really?
The second long week end in May came up and me and my partner decided that flying was not a option ,and that we wanted to look at the buses going from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg. As luck would have it or not we saw an ad for SA ROAD LINK ,with 5 Star buses and how well there buses are maintained by Scania and on the TV ad it showed a hostess ,serving Coffee to some passengers , who looked content happy watching a show on a television set ,sitting in a nice modern bus , with realigning seats and lots of leg room.
The ad sold us and we decided to go and get tickets the next day, the next morning we got to the bus stop and were told to put our luggage in the bottom of the vehicle and then we got on.
Now looking at this bus it looked stale in comparison to the bus on the ad ,but we decided we would make the best of it as it was to late now to get onto a different service and also the bus would arrive in Johannesburg the next morning. So even thou the bus wasn’t clean we decided we would put up with it.
The bus filled up with people , and we noticed we were the only white people on the bus
This didn’t put us off cause, the people had a nice vibe ,and they chatted to us ,and generally made us feel welcome,
As we departed the stewardess informed us that the Toilet ,PA System, Television and...
Air conditioning, was out of order, at this everything that appealed to us when we decided to travel with them was now a broken promise. My Partner wanted to get off at this stage ,as we were not to far , we only reached Uitenhage. But I asked him to stay as I really needed ,to see my family in Johannesburg, which I haven’t seen in a year. And although nothing was working on the bus we would be in Johannesburg in the morning.
So he agreed to stay, as we went on out of Uitenhage we were bound for Cradock , the bus now completely full , was heating up, only to find that half of the windows could not open ,the smell of sweat ,filled the cabin and everybody was fanning themselves
All of a sudden there was a commotion in the cabin from the front side and we were told the driver just had a close call ,overtaking a truck, as we went on the bus speeded up giving everybody an uneasy feeling so much so that one of the passengers complained and...
Was told to go back to his seat , but the bus had a close call again this time going round a bend and and almost into the back of a truck on the other side of the bend.
At this time the passengers had enough, and one of the guys asked if we should call to police to stop the bus and have a word with the driver, as we arrived in Cradock ,the police pulled the bus over, and complained with the driver, the driver accused the passenger who called them of being drunk ,and the cops arrested him on the spot.
This angered the other passengers, as even I know that the guy was not drunk as he sat a couple, of seats in front of us ,and we did not see him drink ,also he did ask the other fellow passengers if they ,wanted him to call. So the passengers intervened and the cops escorted the bus to the police station.
Once we arrived at the modern Cradock Police Station just outside town. The passengers, asked the police to get the bus to the road worthy, to get it tested and the driver admitted that he was maybe pushing the limits of the bus to far, so the cops let the passenger go who called them.
So of the bus went to roadworthy with the passengers of loaded, at the police station, with every body standing outside waiting for it to come and take us further on our journey. The Bus came back an hour later, but we were informed that the bus was not roadworthy as it failed a brake test . At this time the towns Chief speed cop, took the license disk of the window of the bus and confiscated the drivers license as well .
So here we are next to the road taking our luggage, off the bus , and its starts pouring with rain.
The Police then assisted us by inviting us into the station, so we could find out what arrangements our now sworn at hostess could, make .The hostess called SA ROADLINK offices at the time we were first pulled off ,and reported our predicament, however her office had not informed her of the alternate arrangements for our way forward, until an hour later, She the informed us a bus would come and pick us up and was on its way.
We then asked her were the bus coming from, and she informed us, its was coming from Durban ,but was already on the road and that the bus was just past mHimtata, or iButchwa,nevertheless the bus would be there, in a couple of hours.
I then went to the nice Stuart lady and asked her to be up front with me, about the new arrival time for the bus and she told me that the bus would only be in Cradock at 8 o clock in the morning. I gave her my number and told her I am going into town to find a bite to eat. She told me not to expect SA ROADLINK to pay for it !!!!! I asked her what were SA ROADLINK plans for the rest of the passengers, she told me they would have to stay at the police station till the next morning. That is when I decided to look for food and a B&B when we got to the B&B we were tired and drained as we waked 4 KM with our luggage to get there,in the rain.
Before we went to bed we decided we would make a decision regarding the trip to either carry on in the morning or get friends to come and get us from PE, it was one thirty AM at this tim.
Six o clock am we got a call from the stewardess that our bus would be in Cradock in the hour and we would have to make our way back to the police station . We decided to have a look at the new bus first before we world make a decision wither to carry on with this trip.
At seven thirty the bus arrived, and low and behold they sent us a bus that resembled the one on the are ad , and we were told everything on the bus was in working order we decided to carry on ,we felt like we would be in Johannesburg in the next ten hours or so that it would be worth wile to carry on and we would be doing it in comfort.
So the people boarded the bus and so did we with new promise. We stopped in the town in Cradock and got some food and supplies. As most people has not eaten since the day before. Everybody got replenished with food and drink. The from there we took the route to Johannesburg. We travelled for a couple of hours and arrived at Colesburg there we stopped at the Ultra City passengers got off bought food and got back on we waited for two hours before the Driver returned, informing us he does not have the necessary permit to travel through the Freestate. He almost had a riot on his hands . So he explained he is going , to drive a b- route to skip Bloemfotein, and then arrange taxis to pick up , passengers who were going to Bloem in Smithfield . The passengers accepted this and we had no choice to go along with it cause we were now to far away for our friend in PE to come and fetch us.
So we arrive in Smithfield the bus stops and now ,we wait for these supposed taxis and wait and wait.. no taxis arrive . after an hour the driver informs us that we will go to the next town and wait for them cause they are on their way . So here we go again, in the next dorpie in the middle of know wear we stop waited 15 minutes and the taxis arrive, the people got off and some got on. And of we go!!!!!
Now if I knew then what I know now I would have got of just then and there, the driver now starts his route bypassing Bloemfontein in a eastern direction we travel in good faith that he knows were his going, and after a couple of hours he informs the stewardess that we are going to be dropped off at some toll gate on the N1 about a 100km outside Bloemfontein, on the jhb side so we start asking questions . Ok how are we getting to jhb?
The stewardess explained that they are going to put us on taxis to jhb from the tollgate because of the route licensing problem. We accept this ,but time passes and now its 8-o-clock at night and we are again in the middle of nowhere.
Eventually we saw a sighs, at this stage I moved to the front of the bus to se if I could se were we were. The sigh reads ZASTRON 10KM now for those of you that know Zastron is a town on the Lesotho border with South Africa , the driver now confesses that he is lost and the passengers are getting rowdy!!!!
The bus driver decides ok ,his turning the bus around . He asks us to assist him in turning the bus around at a intersection witch we do, and off he goes back to Bloemfontein. At this point I got my mom to drive from jhb to bloem to come fetch us . if we were reaching bloem there was no way we could say on this bus , so about 10 km outside the Bloemfontein the lights on the bus went out so did the heater ,and then the engine died……..
Thankfully the driver knew what to do he stepped out and started to work in the back of the bus ,eventually he got the bus going but with no heater and no power for the lights inside the cabin . the bus got into Bloemfontein and stopped at a truck stop ,no nice descent place a crude truck stop.
Thay then told us taxis is coming from jhb to pick us up at the truck stop,. At this time of half past eleven me and my partner got off the bus, we then saw the bus leaving and stood outside till my mom arrived just after midnight!! We passed the bus well after the tollgate the driver was telling us about were the supposed taxis were going to pick us up at foeriesbuirg just about 25 km from kroonstad. And that was the last I saw of that .
Now SA ROADLINK keeps operating and people fall for them all the time , We asked for our money back but they are refusing and comes with stories ,of why they cant refund us!!! I feel we are entitled to get our money back due to the fact that we didn’t get to our destination, on time , we were on the road for 34 hours to Bloemfontein and they initially transported us on a bus that was not roadworthy .and left us to fend for ourselves for the night.
This is a disgrace what happened to us , but I believe that this type of thing happens every day .but passengers complaints fall on deaf ears. I recon if it was not for the desperateness of there customers to get were they need going . they would be out of business . instead they rip off the poorer people who buy’s a ticket on price only.
With the money I have spent on our bus tickets and accommodation and the extra food . I could have flown to jhb!!!!! Buy the way we flew back to P.E and you will never ever find me or my partner on a bus ever again except if it is the bus at the airport taking us to the plane.