Strict measures for Roadlink
Skhumbuzo Miya, The Witness
Pietermaritzburg - Controversial long-distance bus operator SA Roadlink will be put under stringent operational measures, including ensuring that none of its buses enters KwaZulu-Natal or leaves depots without being subjected to roadworthiness inspections.
A clearly angry KwaZulu-Natal transport MEC Willies Mchunu announced on Thursday at a media conference at the KZN Legislature in Pietermaritzburg that this decision was taken because the company continues to operate unsafe buses, putting the lives of passengers at risk.
"Experience and a body of evidence suggests to us in government that SA Roadlink proves to be our weakest link in the attainment of our fundamental goals of a safe public transport system.
"In the interest of the safety of our commuters and total adherence to road traffic regulations, the department has taken strict measures," Mchunu said.
Mchunu said an instruction has been issued to the Public Transport Enforcement Unit (PTEU), the feared unit also known as Operation Shanela, to ensure that every Roadlink bus that enters the province is inspected.
The company's buses will not be allowed to leave the three depots in and around Durban without a pre-trip inspection by experienced PTEU officers.
Among other things, the vehicle and driver will be checked for vehicle safety and compliance, vehicle and operator license, passenger count and survey, driver fitness including scans for alcohol, certificate of roadworthiness, Professional Driver's Permit (PDP), and many others.
"Road Traffic Inspectorate officers will be deployed at the roadside to strictly monitor the anticipated advantages of enhanced enforcement, and monitor the speed travelled by these buses.
"(We) will engage with the Department of Trade and Industry with a view to investigating SA Roadlink for any manufacturing defects through the South African National Standards Authority (Sansa)."
The MEC also revealed that an interprovincial and co-ordinated strategy to deal with Roadlink is being developed by the province and Road Traffic Management Corporation (RMTC), saying they would collect evidence to strengthen their application to declare the bus company unfit, by engaging with other provinces.
"They (the department) have not told us anything; we have not had any communication from the department. We know nothing at this stage," Roadlink spokesperson Lumka Oliphant said when approached for comment on Thursday.