Buses exceeding limit

2017-09-12 13:45
Emergency personnel look at school bags and debris scattered across the N3 northbound after a bus carrying 46 pupils and four staff from Michaelhouse crashed on Tuesday last week.

Emergency personnel look at school bags and debris scattered across the N3 northbound after a bus carrying 46 pupils and four staff from Michaelhouse crashed on Tuesday last week. (Ian Carbutt)

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A city parent has raised concerns about speeding by Maharaj’s Coaches buses transporting school pupils — and the transport company admitted it happened.

A parent told The Witness that earlier this year he had lodged a complaint with the school his son attends about “speeding” Maharaj’s buses he had seen on Van Reenen’s Pass. He said they had been travelling at 90 km/h in a 60 km/h zone and had also exceeded the 120 km/h limit on another part of the journey.

In an e-mailed response, Rajan Maharaj of Maharaj’s Coaches, said: “After checking our tracking system, I confirm that certain drivers did exceed the speed limit at various intervals, although 90% of our fleet is fitted with speed limiters, limited at 105 kms.”

Attorney Dev Maharaj, speaking on behalf of the company, said the 60 km/h­ restriction on Van Reenen’s Pass did not apply to buses but to “horse-and-trailer” vehicles.

Maharaj's has been under the spotlight since a 16-year-old pupil was killed last week and 45 others were injured when one of its buses carrying Michaelhouse’s under-16 soccer teams overturned on the N3.

The parent who complained about the speeding said his son, who attends a prominent high school in the city, had travelled on a Maharaj’s bus along with his teachers and team-mates to play sports at Pretoria Boy’s High School.

“My son told me that while travelling up to Pretoria one of the teachers asked the driver of the bus to slow down,” he said.

The son joined his parents for the trip back home. On the journey they witnessed three Maharaj buses “speeding” down Van Reenen’s Pass.

“After they [the buses] passed me I noticed they were weaving in and out of both lanes to maintain their speed.

“They say they are careful, responsible drivers, but they are not. Unless they are caught these guys will deny they are at fault. These e-mails prove that they speed when they can,” said the parent.

Dev Maharaj said the driver of a speeding bus “was indeed reprimanded”. He said all their vehicles were controlled not to exceed 105 km, which avoids speeding. “Speeding in lower speed areas is subject to disciplinary action against the drivers and a docking of their salaries, which is a good measure to avoid them speeding.

“All drivers are given stern warnings during their regular briefing meetings about speeding, simply to reinforce the importance of keeping within the speed limit,” he said.

With regard to the speed of the vehicle that overturned on the N3 last week, Maharaj said: “It has been confirmed via the vehicle tracking system that the vehicle was travelling well within its speed limit and there were no less than three teachers on board who would have ensured that the driver would not have dared to exceed the speed limit.”

He said this information, together with the service history of the vehicle and drivers credentials, was handed to the various authorities investigating the incident.

On Sunday, Michaelhouse released a statement saying that they were relieved to report that six boys were discharged from hospital on Saturday afternoon and are either at home or back at school.

“Three of our boys remain in ICU but are in stable conditions with one expected to be moved into high care ... One staff member is also still being cared for in hospital and is expected to go back into theatre on Monday,” read the statement.

Marketing manager at Pietermaritzburg MediClinic Reshnee Beekrum said one of the three pupils they were treating was discharged on Friday morning and attended the memorial service at Michaelhouse.

“The other [pupil] who was in high care was transferred to the surgical unit on Saturday. [He is] comfortable at this stage. And one remains in intensive care, [he is] in a stable condition,” said Beekrum.


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