Stranded bus passengers fume

2008-03-22 00:00

Easter travellers were left stranded for hours in Pietermaritzburg after a SA Roadlink bus they were supposed to travel on to Johannesburg broke down in Durban yesterday morning.

The delay caused commotion as about 15 passengers and two cashiers at the SA Roadlink city booking offices shouted at each other. The travellers accused the cashiers of being rude, while the cashiers accused the passengers of not being patient.

At about 10.30 am cashiers told the passengers they would have to wait for another three to five hours for the bus, which was supposed to pass through Pietermaritzburg to Johannesburg at 9 am.

“I arrived here at 8.30 am and at about 9.30 the bus had still not arrived. We went to the [booking] office to find out, and we were told to be patient. After 10 am we returned to the office, and were told to wait for another three to five hours,” said Charles Donnelley.

Donnelley, who was on his way to Johannesburg to prepare for his daughter’s wedding, said when he and other passengers demanded their money back they were told that it could only be deposited into their bank accounts on Tuesday.

Donnelley said this was the second time he has been stranded when travelling on SA Roadlink buses. Last year he had to wait for three hours as a bus was exchanged in Harrismith. This time he resorted to SA Roadlink after all other bus companies were fully booked.

During the argument, a cashier was heard shouting: “If you want your money back I will call our Durban office and tell them to bring it here within an hour.”

Vusi Ngwane from Richmond Crest said he was concerned about the safety of his 12-year-old son Thabo, who was travelling by himself to visit relatives in Johannesburg.

“I wanted him to arrive in Johannesburg early because he is young. If he is to wait for another three to five hours for the bus he will be there at night, which is dangerous,” said Ngwane.

Most stranded passengers had made their bookings on Thursday. Weekend Witness established that three SA Roadlink buses to Johannesburg were cancelled early yesterday morning. But as the reporter drove back to the office, he saw an SA Roadlink bus driving past the city on the N3 highway.

When contacted at noon, Alisia Booysen who works at the SA Roadlink call centre, said a bus would arrive at 12.30 pm.

“We do apologise for the inconvenience. We have a technical fault in our bus that was supposed to pick the passengers up in the morning,” said Booysen.

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