News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Monday May 20th 2019

Killer busses: Western Cape ministers vow action

Siyabonga Kalipa

Western Cape transport MEC Robin Carlisle is to seek a review of existing transport legislation to give the province powers to take operators who continue to flout safety laws off the road.

Speaking at a media briefing in Cape Town on Tuesday on the back of controversy involving bus company SA Roadlink, Carlisle said his office had considered banning operators who consistently broke road traffic laws, but that this was outside the powers of provincial government.

A media furore has broken out in recent days over bus safety, or what have become dubbed “killer busses”.

SA Roadlink busses have featured prominently, with eight busses taken off the road in the Western Cape, the press briefing heard. A driver was also recently arrested for drunken driving.

With thousands of commuters returning to Cape Town from the Eastern Cape after the festive season break, Carlisle said although banning operators who “consistently disregard the law and place human life at risk” had been considered, an initial analysis of the National Land Transport Act indicated that this was outside the scope of provincial government powers.

However, Carlisle said a review of the legislation would be sought. Should this be successful, the provincial government would be able to withdraw the licences of operators who did not have a verified track record of road safety.

There have been 121 road fatalities in the Western Cape between 1 December 2009 and 4 January 2010, but none of these deaths were as the result of an accident that involved a bus transporting passengers, transport spokesperson Solly Malatsi said.

The Western Cape transport and community safety departments yesterday announced four measures to combat road fatalities.

According to a joint statement by Carlisle and community safety MEC Lennit Max, enforcement officers will continue to suspend the operation of all transport found to be unroadworthy and a safety risk.

This will be backed up with the pressing of criminal charges, with a successful prosecution meaning that an operator may be liable to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding six years. Carlisle said discussions had already been instigated with the provincial NPA to facilitate the process.

By the end of February 2010 facilities and staff would be in place to effect a 24/7 inspection of all transport entering and leaving the province on the N1 at the Beaufort West weigh-bridge and on the N2 at the Swellendam weigh-bridge.

Section 50 of the National Road Traffic Act will be used to document and investigate all serious and repeat transgressions. These will be made available to the Provincial Operating Licencing Board (POLB) so operating licences cannot be issues for serial transgressors.

Max said: “Let it be clear that bus operators who allow unsafe buses or drunk drivers to put public safety at risk are in our sightlines and their days are truly numbered.”

SA Roadlink CEO Allan Reddy, who met with the two MEC’s prior to the press briefing, claimed that his company was being victimised.

“There is a total misconception by the media because it is not just our buses that are found to be unroadworthy, and our buses go through a routine check before they go out on a trip.”

Reddy said the driver who had been found to be drunk had been a new driver and had been suspended. He said the company was willing to work with the Western Cape provincial government. – West Cape News

Tags: busses, carlisle, max

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