Dodgy Roadlink bus in N3 crash

2012-06-05 00:00

THE SA Roadlink bus involved in an accident near Estcourt in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday morning is the same bus identified in Rapport on Sunday as operating with a forged permit.

A total of 17 people, including the bus driver, were injured in yesterday’s accident — the fifth involving an SA Roadlink bus since March this year.

SA Roadlink spokesperson Nolin Padayachee says the bus that was involved in yesterday’s accident had all the correct, legal permits.

But one of the suspected forged documents that André Smit (42) took with him before he resigned after only two days as SA Roadlink national transport manager last Monday shows the registration number XWD 802 GP. This is the same number as that of the bus that crashed into a truck from behind on the Durban-bound N3 at about 4.15 am yesterday.

ER24 emergency service spokesperson Derrick Banks said it is not clear what led to the accident.

Smit had smuggled the document and some others out of a manager’s office after apparently seeing it being forged.

Padayachee said yesterday that Smit’s story about the forged document was fabricated. He said the document was genuine and was issued by the Gauteng department of roads and transport, the department that allows buses to be replaced.

According to section 46 of the Gauteng Public Passenger Road Transport Act, a permanent vehicle that has been damaged or is unusable due to an accident may be replaced with a temporary bus for no longer than 42 days. On the document that Smit smuggled out, and which relates to the bus in yesterday’s accident, the permit to replace the vehicle TTL 570 GP was issued on May 8, 2012. It is valid until December 8, 2012 — a seven-month period.

Smit said it was his duty to tell the media what was happening, even though it would mean struggling to find a job in the transport sector again.

“Too many people are injured and killed in those bus accidents.

“Many people are scared to use Roadlink buses, but have no choice. It is the cheapest bus transport.”

An SA Roadlink ticket from Johannesburg to Cape Town costs R399, while the next cheapest tickets for the same route range from R450 and R530 on the Intercape bus service. Greyhound charges R540.

Smit said he saw permits bearing the Gauteng government emblem being forged. In these documents, the government apparently gives permission for a bus serving a particular route to also serve one or two other routes. It also indicates that more buses may operate on a route than the limited number usually allowed.

According to an insurance company, claims by passengers involved in a bus accident may be rejected if it appears that the bus was not roadworthy or did not have the correct permits.

Padayachee said Smit was appointed only as a depot manager and never submitted an official resignation.

The company is considering legal steps against Smit for contravening the conditions of his contract.

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