Govt gets tough on public transport
Johannesburg - All buses and minibus taxis on South Africa's road will be stopped and checked with immediate effect, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Wednesday.
"At least 76 people have been killed in this month [August] in eight separate crashes involving public transport vehicles in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Gauteng and Eastern Cape," he said.
"This is out of hand."
In the past week, 32 people, 15 of them children, were killed in three bus crashes.
Eleven were killed in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday night, when their bus overturned near Aberdeen on the R61 towards Beaufort West.
Another five people were killed in Gauteng when their bus overturned near the Murrayhill toll plaza, north of Pretoria, on Tuesday afternoon.
In Knysna last Wednesday, 15 children and their driver were killed when their bus rolled into a river.
National enforcement plan
"We have instructed law enforcement agencies to stop and check every public transport vehicle, including buses, taxis and scholar transport vehicles, across the country with immediate effect."
This was part of a new national enforcement plan.
"We cannot have public transport operators who are only interested in making a quick buck, no matter what."
He commended the SA National Taxi Council for its Operation Hlokomela, through which the industry was monitoring drivers and operators to ensure they adhered to road rules. Ndebele called on the bus industry to do the same.
"Basic minimum quality standards must be in place to transport passengers in a safe, efficient and reliable manner."
According to the department's research, between January 2007 and June 2009, 689 people were killed in 415 bus accidents.
Major contributory factors included unroadworthy vehicles, speeding, driver fatigue, lack of concentration and driving under the influence of alcohol.