News24

Knysna bus had numerous defects

2011-09-13 14:16

Cape Town - A team investigating a recent bus crash that killed 14 children and a driver has found the vehicle involved had a range of defects, despite being given a roadworthy certificate.

Evidence of "alleged criminal activity" was found at the TJ Motor Vehicle Testing Station, which tested and certified the Tata bus on 14 April 2011, Western Cape transport MEC Robin Carlisle told reporters in Cape Town on Tuesday.

"I am in possession of two affidavits from members of the departmental investigation team evidencing to alleged criminal activity by [the owner of the station] in his capacity as proprietor and examiner of vehicles at TJ," Carlisle said.

"This represents non-compliance with the National Road Traffic Act, 1996 and the National Road Traffic Regulations of 2000."

Corruption

Chrisfred Naude, head of the team investigating the accident, had opened a case of corruption against the owner of TJ's at the George police station on behalf of the Western Cape transport department.

The bus plunged off a low bridge into the swollen Kassat se Drift River near Knysna on August 24, killing 14 schoolchildren and their driver. The children were pupils at the Rheenendal Primary School and aged between 7 and 14.

Carlisle said one defect identified by investigators included "excessive play" on the gear lever, making gear selection difficult.

"Only on his 5th attempt was a team member able to select the 1st or reverse gears," Carlisle said.

Upon removal of the engine cover an investigator noticed a bracket "loose with one bolt missing and the second unscrewed up to the point that it was fouling the steering pump".

Carlisle said the bus's slack adjuster, which affected the brake adjustment interval, had "probably not been adjusted for some time before the crash".

Investigators further found the right rear booster bracket was bent and that the booster push rod pin was "wearing into the booster body".

Another defect was that the vehicle load sensing valve had been bypassed.

Roadworthy test

"During inspection of the cross-members for cracks it was established ... that the load sensing valve was bypassed and pivot control is seized and not connected to the axle, and that the connecting rod is also missing," Carlisle said.

"Further investigation under a laboratory condition will beyond doubt confirm that it has been disconnected for over 133 days."

Carlisle said when Naude asked who had brought the bus in for "the alleged roadworthy test" on April 14, 2011, the owner and his cashier "repeatedly changed their stories".

Carlisle said he had personally" shut down TJ Motor Vehicle Testing Station, and the department was confiscating all the company's records for the investigation.

"If vehicle testing stations issue fraudulent roadworthy certificates then that chain of safety snaps - too often only to be found out when there is a terrible crash that kills more innocents."

Comments
  • Currie_Mafia - 2011-09-13 14:31

    Heads must roll !!!

  • TrueTenacity - 2011-09-13 14:32

    All of this plus the fact that the bus was 6 people from DOUBLE the capacity...

  • d2eguy - 2011-09-13 14:48

    the driver was punished for his part (overloading)now charge the bus owner and the testing stations owner .

  • Vela Stardust - 2011-09-13 14:52

    Well done Robin Carlisle!

  • Linus - 2011-09-13 14:52

    Charge the TJ Testing people with manslaughter - and whoever was complicit in the fake certification - bastards....

      pothead - 2011-09-13 15:04

      linus,MURDER..................!!!

  • Ingie - 2011-09-13 15:01

    that the load sensing valve was bypassed therefore overloading!!! Shut down for how long until the next accident!!

  • suzy - 2011-09-13 15:06

    Evil evil people - and it always seems to be the children who suffer. I do hope they go to jail for a long time

  • Shirleyanne - 2011-09-13 15:20

    I trust that these people will be charged with murder.

  • CyberDog - 2011-09-13 15:34

    What about the fact that the road was not maintained.... Why is the road department not sued for neglect ???? There was no side banister on the road over a freaking river.... This is gross negligence by the road department. If there was a banister the bus would never ended up in the river. And they keep referring to this as a crash .. What crash, this was an accident, not a freaking crash? Are you all freaking brain dead ? What does a load sensor or a gear level have to do with a bus falling off a road ? What about the case of manslaughter against the road works department for their neglect, and charging us for it as well...

  • Peter - 2011-09-13 15:38

    The fact of the matter is that if the load-sensing valve has been bypassed then the air pressure to the boosters is higher resulting in stronger braking on the rear axle. The only purpose for the load-sensing valve is so that the wheels don't lock under braking when the vehicle is unladen/empty. "Further investigation under a laboratory condition will beyond doubt confirm that it has been disconnected for over 133 days."I would love to know how they will"beyond doubt" confirm how long the rods have been disconnected. "Only on his 5th attempt was a team member able to select the 1st or reverse gears," Carlisle said.I wonder if the "team member" has ever driven a Tata bus before. "one bolt missing and the second unscrewed up to the point that it was fouling the steering pump".Why is this a problem. The steering pump is stationary and the power steering fluid travels through hoses or pipes to the steering cylinder which turns the wheels. "Carlisle said the bus's slack adjuster, which affected the brake adjustment interval, had "probably not been adjusted for some time before the crash".How can the slack adjuster affect the "brake adjustment interval"? It affects the adjustment of the gap between the brake lining and the brake drum. Is this poor reporting or are the "experts" talking about something they know very little about? Make no error I am sorry for the loss of life but it really irritates me when people have a lot to say about thing they know little about.

  • reini32@24.com - 2011-09-13 15:40

    I would like to see this go all the way no fines or a simple slap on the wrist!! We will achieve nothing by this. The only answer is a jail sentence appropriate for ever child that has died as a result of their reckless behaviour!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ingie - 2011-09-13 15:42

    DEFECTS..LIKE THE OWNERS BRAIN..SHAME ON HIM.. HOPE HE TRIES AND SLEEPS ..FULL FAMILY OF KIDS DIED BECAUSE OF HIS NEGLIGENCE. BRAINLESS CREATURE

  • Angie Mansa - 2011-09-13 15:43

    The must be punished to the full extent of the law - this is nothing short of murder, how can they pass a vehicle in that condition knowing it transports children. Wont bring the children back to their grieving parents but it will definitely let them think justice has been done. All testing stations should be investigated because you can be sure this one is not the only one.

  • Collitjies - 2011-09-13 15:52

    In fact all testing stations should be audited as they are all open to bribery and corruption. A road worthy certificate can be bought just like a driver's licence. All I can say is well done to the investigating team, carry on with your good work.

  • Wayne - 2011-09-13 16:30

    Although, It must be reminded that this investigation I believe is flogging a dead horse. According to eye witness details, The driver stalled the vehicle on the incline when he stopped, and was trying to give it a running start in *reverse*, this is not only a dangerous procedure but actually ludicrous in a bus, as the drivers rear view is non-existant to say the least(side mirrors don't count here), then still concentrating on the starting procedure. I'm sorry , not many drivers will pull this off, Driver error. Although clearly faulty, the vehicle did not contribute much to this tragic accident.

  • oosie.eksteen - 2011-09-15 11:52

    I agree with Cyberdog,proper road side requirements is overlooked here,they are looking for somebody to blame,the Dept of Transport should have maintained the road,that school has been there for a very long time,why did nobody pick up on this barrier.TJ testing station should also be held responsible if it can be proved that they were at fault as well.

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