Authorities pull over school buses

Western Cape MEC for Transport, Robin Carlisle

IN THE two school days following last week’s fatal Rheenendal bus crash, more than a dozen defective buses transporting pupils were taken off the province’s roads and four were found to be overloaded. 

The 32-seater African Express bus, transporting 58 Rheenendal Primary School pupils, crashed into a river outside Knysna. Fourteen pupils and the driver were killed. 

Yesterday, Jacques Mostert, a senior traffic inspector, said operations targeting vehicles transporting school pupils had been stepped up. 

He said that since the crash 117 buses had been stopped and inspected. 

He said that on Thursday, the day after the accident, a bus belonging to African Express was pulled off the road inMosselBayand found to have defects. Of the remaining 116 buses checked, Mostert said 15 were taken off the road after they were found to have problems including defective service and parking brakes, oil leaks and loose seats; 16 were operating without vehicle licences; five drivers did not have the required permits and four buses were overloaded, one by 28 pupils, another by 18, a third by 11 and the fourth by four pupils. The drivers of the three most overloaded buses were arrested. 

Yesterday, Pravin Singh, manager of African Express, said he had sent a message to all his drivers that the safety of the children was a priority and that they must not overload the buses.  

Earlier this week, Transport MEC Robin Carlisle said the African Express bus involved in last week’s accident had initially failed a 20-minute roadworthy test at TJ’s Vehicle Testing Station on April 14 as it had insufficient brake force and a loose steering mechanism. 

Carlislesaid the bus was retested for roadworthiness about 80 minutes later and passed. Investigations into last week’s crash are continuing. 

Source:  Cape Times

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