Maharaj Coaches cleared

2018-07-27 15:37
Two police officers look at school bags and debris scattered across the N3 northbound after a bus carrying 46 pupils and four staff from Michaelhouse crashed last year.

Two police officers look at school bags and debris scattered across the N3 northbound after a bus carrying 46 pupils and four staff from Michaelhouse crashed last year. (File)

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Maharaj’s Coaches has been cleared of any wrongdoing after one of their buses was involved in a fatal crash last year while transporting 48 Michaelhouse pupils and teachers.

One pupil was killed and 47 others were injured when the bus they were travelling in to play soccer at Kearsney College overturned on the N3 near Hilton in September last year.

Read:Midlands school bus tragedy

Greg Theron, the Michaelhouse rector (principal) told The Witness at the time that the hired Maharaj Coaches bus transporting four U16 soccer teams to Kears­ney suffered a tyre blow-out and flipped onto its side.

In a March report on the police investigation Warrant Officer Spencer Roberts revealed that the bus accident was indeed a result of a tyre blow-out and not a human error or mechanical fault.

“The only reasonable explanation for this tyre blowout is that a driver damaged the tyre as he drove through a pothole, unknowingly he damaged the tyre on the inside. With [continuous] use of the tyre over a prolonged period, the tyre flexed beyond its elastic limits allowing the air to force itself between the tread surface and the cords in the tyre carcass and eventually causing the tread surface to separate from the carcass.

“I am therefore of the opinion that this crash occurred due to tyre failure as the tyre damage is consistent with that of a tyre blow-out,” said Roberts.

When asked for comment, Michaelhouse referred The Witness to a speech by the chair of the school board, Anthony Hewat, which he delivered in October last year on the investigation report and the preliminary findings from their legal team. “The essential conclusion that has been drawn independently by this team is that the accident was caused by the catastrophic failure of the front right tyre of the bus. In simple language, the cause of the accident is confirmed as a blow-out.”

Dev Maharaj, an attorney representing Maharaj’s Coaches, said it was correct that the official finding found no human error having caused the accident, but more especially found that the vehicle was in a roadworthy condition and was adequately maintained.

“In a nutshell, the official finding is that this was merely a freak accident,” he said.

Maharaj said Maharaj’s Coaches has, all along, prided itself on operating a business where the roadworthiness of its vehicles and reliability of its drivers are paramount in rendering a safe, professional and efficient service and it is little wonder that the official findings have exonerated the company from any blame.

“Our client regrets the incident and especially the loss of the life of a scholar and the injuries sustained by the affected scholars.”

He said Maharaj’s Coaches has also reviewed its operations and has put additional measures in place to further minimise the risk of any accidents occurring.

He said the bus company has been servicing many private schools in Pietermaritzburg and the surrounding areas.

He said many of the schools cut back on utilising their services since the accident, which greatly affected the company’s cash flow.

“Many of them have resumed engaging our client’s services and it is hoped that now that the official findings have been released, all schools and the public at large will be comforted by the findings and hopefully engage more meaningfully with our client to restore the erstwhile working relationships that endured for a considerable time.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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