THE Western Cape government wants the law changed so that provincial governments can withdraw the licences of bus companies that operate "coffins on wheels".
MEC for transport and public works Robin Carlisle and MEC for community safety Lennit Max yesterday came down hard on SA Roadlink, announcing a three-pronged strategy to get the company's buses that are unsafe off the road.
Carlisle and Max said the law did not allow them to "ban bus operators who place human life at risk".
"We will now approach Minister of Transport S'bu Ndebele to ask him to change the law," Carlisle said.
The MECs also want owners of bus companies to be held responsible for any accidents, as in the UK.
Max and Carlisle say they will "use the law as it exists currently to increase the pain of the operator".
"For offences that took place in December, where we can lay criminal charges, I will lay charges," Carlisle said.
Also, from the end of next month, all buses leaving and entering the province on the N2 and N1 highways would be stopped for inspection at new checkpoints at Beaufort West and Swellendam.
The checkpoints will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
And if SA Roadlink does not fix all its defective buses, Carlisle will ask the Provincial Operating Licencing Board to consider withdrawing the company's licences, making it impossible for SA Roadlink buses to drive on any Western Cape roads.
Carlisle said that the bus company had been involved in 12 "incidents" in the past two months alone.
Last month a driver - transporting 70 passengers from Cape Town to Johannesburg was pulled over by traffic police and found to be 29 times over the legalalcohol limit.
Carlisle rubbished claims by SA Roadlink CEO Allan Reddy that their buses were fine when they set off but were damaged by "pot holes in the Transkei".
"We found these arguments thin," he said, adding he had commissioned a report into the N2 highway in Eastern Cape which found it to be "quite fine".
But an unrepentant Reddy told journalists yesterday that his buses had not been involved in any accidents since last December.
Reddy admitted that seven of their 50 buses were currently off the road in Cape Town alone.
Last year, national Police Commissioner Bheki Cele, then the KwaZulu-Natal safety and security MEC, tried to ban SA Roadlink operating in the province but Reddy successfully opposed the action.
Ndebele's spokesperson Logan Maistry said: "The minister would consider supporting changes to the law to allow provincial governments to withdraw bus operators' licences, as long as these go through the normal law-making process."