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Tshepo T
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'May her soul rest in peace'

27 November 2009, 14:30  - Tshepo T
Dear Editor,

The bus accident that happened last night on Moloto Road was by no means a random, tragic accident but rather something which could have been prevented if our transport department and traffic officers took their responsibilities seriously.

It took more than two hours for emergency personnel services to arrive at the scene, and those which arrived where coming as far as Bronkonspruit, whereas Pretoria and Kwa-Mhlanga hospitals are about 35km and 31km away respectively. Their late arrival could be attributed to the traffic congestion which was hampering any movement on the road. However, this does not discount the fact that the accident could have been prevented.

Tragic accidents have been occurring on this road since 1997 and yet the bus utility company has done nothing so far to improve that record. I drive on the Moloto Road every Friday and Monday of the week. My journey starts from Vaalbank to Johannesburg in the earlier hours of the morning.

During these drives I have noticed a disturbing trend:

- The bus drivers drive at very high speeds
- They overtake other vehicles on the stretches of the road where overtaking is not permitted
- They intimidate other road users. If you dare not move away while they overtake they keep on flashing their lights at your vehicle.
- On a daily basis more than 12 buses, between Vaalbank and Pretoria, are parked on the side of the road due to breakdowns. This disturbing trend also affects the newly purchased fleet of buses. Either, the buses are not properly maintained; the drivers are not trained properly (causing the constant mechanical breakdowns) or the buses have a mechanical defect which we as ordinary citizens wouldn’t know of.

There were some startling things seen at the accident scene. The bus had fallen sideways on the right side of the road and it was a death trap for its passengers. There were two emergency exit windows at the back of the bus, which were unreachable by the injured passengers. Due to the accident, there were only two openings on the bus - a hole in the bus which was caused by the truck when the two vehicles collided head-on which was blocked by luggage and a very small opening at the top of the driver’s seat which is about 80cm in length and 72cm in breadth.

We tried to pull out an elderly woman who was screaming but unfortunately she could not fit through the small opening. We watched in horror as the flames engulfed her.  May her soul rest in peace.

It is important to note that these accidents will continue to occur for as long as the relevant authorities do not take measures to bring about change in the public transport industry. Why have rules and regulations which are not enforced? For as long as bus companies are driven by maximizing profits without any regard for human life the carnage on our roads will continue.

Our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, nephews and friends continue to be statistics.

Changes need to happen if we are serious about reducing the deaths which occur on our roads.

- Ensure and enforce visible traffic policing on the Moloto Road. The road transports more than 5000 passengers per day
- Enforce a speed limit of 100km/h for buses
- Train bus drivers and constantly monitor their fitness
- Educate bus drivers on road rulest
- Monitor and enforce the road worthiness of all public utility transport vehicles
- On passenger transporting vehicles there should be more than six emergency exits
- The roofs of the buses could be made less durable to enable easy opening during accidents, this should be legislated
- Bus companies should be made to account for the total fleet on its books; their services records; the number of trips undertaken before any service can be conducted; he total number of drivers on its books; the driver’s fitness and medical records; the driver’s drivers licenses; the number of accidents caused by the fleet since operation and any additional measures undertaken to improve safety on the buses

If all this, I believe, could be enforced by our transport department we would have fewer accidents like last night's one on Moloto Road.

Tshepo T

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