Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Un roadworthy buses in George

In the wake of a series of unroadworthy buses being pulled off roads in the Western Cape recently, Western Cape MEC of Community Safety Lennit Max and MEC of Transport Robin Carlisle called a briefing yesterday “to investigate all possible measures to prevent unsafe buses from operating in the province”.

Carlisle said they “have resolved to take a range of steps against any bus operator that places the public in jeopardy”. He said they had requested urgent legal advice on the steps which could be taken against bus operators before close of business yesterday, and would make a formal announcement at noon today.

The meeting was attended by department and traffic bosses as well as licensing board representatives.

Altogether nine buses were declared unroadworthy from Friday to Monday afternoon at the George municipal testing ground.

These included three SA Roadlink buses, two City-to- City, two Intercape, one from CK Tours and Travel in Umhlanga, and one from TF Systems in Great Brak.

A 22-wheeler truck carrying cheese was also declared unroadworthy.

Quick thinking by the driver of an Intercape bus travelling down the Outeniqua Pass yesterday morning narrowly averted an accident when he steered the bus into the barrier rails because the brakes overheated. Inspectors later impounded the bus after it was found to have faulty brakes, bad tyres and diesel leaks.

“The driver did a great job in stopping the bus. After the brakes cooled down the bus was allowed to continue to the testing ground where it was found that the brakes were not acting with equal ability, due to overheating.

“There were also other problems with the bus, but the driver was allowed to take the bus to be repaired. It will be tested again for roadworthiness before being allowed back on the road,” said Gerald Dekker, chief inspector, Southern Cape Provincial Traffic Department.

Dekker said the other Intercape bus pulled off the road early in the morning was later allowed to continue its journey after minor repairs.

The bus belonging to TF Systems in Great Brak River, hired by Intercape to pick up stranded passengers in George, was impounded when it was found to have a defective back axle.

According to Dekker, the three SA Roadlink buses impounded on roads in Knysna and George at the weekend were also found to be completely unroadworthy.

A fourth SA Roadlink bus inspected by traffic police in Knysna early yesterday morning was allowed to continue its journey.

The impounded SA Roadlink buses had defects ranging from faulty brakes, suspensions and shock absorbers to windscreen wipers and lights.

On one SA Roadlink bus the shock absorber was tied in place with washing line twine, while on another bus from the same company the driver and passenger doors were faulty and flew open unpredictably. A trailer belonging to one of the SA Roadlink buses was found to have defective brakes.

A media official from SA Roadlink said yesterday afternoon the company would be sending out a statement once they had received the go ahead from their legal department.

Meanwhile, a Western Cape SA Roadlink driver who was arrested for drunken driving on Saturday had been suspended, the bus company said yesterday.

Spokesman Lumka Oliphant said the 45-year-old driver had been temporarily suspended pending internal investigations.

She said a SA Roadlink delegation would be meeting with Max today.

The company has had at least 200 buses pulled off the road in George for unroadworthiness, but it still maintains all its buses have been properly certified.

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