breaking speed limit

Luzuko Pongoma

Luzuko Pongoma

A ride to Durban on the acclaimed "slaughter machine on wheels" failed to unnerve me even though the driver was taking curves at more than 100km an hour.

This was a day after Roadlink won a court application to continue operating on KwaZulu-Natal roads.

"I do not feel safe with those buses still operating but I hope they will be off the road soon," a motorist who had been overtaken by the bus said.

In front of Gate 7 at Park Station, in Johannesburg, there was a long queue of SA Roadlink customers waiting for the arrival of the bus.

With no information regarding the delay, the 8am bus to Durban finally arrived more than an hour later. At 9.45am the luxury liner finally left after staff members failed to find a man whom they said they saw consuming alcohol in the bus.

A crew member, who introduced herself only as Dineo, apologised for the delay and then introduced Sean, the driver - also no surname given.

The mood in the bus left much to be desired as no one seemed to be in the Christmas spirit or happy to be going home. This later changed as people started opening up as Leon Schuster's movie Mama Jack had them in stitches.

Just before the Heidelberg off-ramp the bus was stopped at a roadblock that seemed to be targeting buses and taxis only.

Dineo served light refreshments in the form of biscuits and juice. Although there was occasional laughter, thanks to Schuster, the passengers were largely quiet, commenting infrequently.

A bearded Indian man - he only gave his name as Yusuf - who was travelling with his family said the trip was one of the most uncomfortable he had taken and the bus was too stuffy. Several requests to have the air-conditioner on failed to freshen the temperature.

Another passenger, Siphelele, said that it was stressful to think about what could happen on the road: "I brought my laptop to watch a movie to take my mind off the trip," he said.

Thulani was quick to silence us, saying we were bringing bad vibes to the bus and making other passengers uncomfortable by talking about the infamous Roadlink accident, which happened a week before this trip.

Taxi driver Smanga Phewa said "all the buses, including SA Roadlink, are reckless. I have been overtaken by buses more than I have been overtaken by any car on the road since I left Johannesburg."

He said this was worrying as he was travelling at speeds of between 80 and 120km.