Traffic cops bust SA Roadlink buses

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Eight luxury bus coaches including five from beleagured SA Roadlink were impounded by the KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) for unroadworthiness and shoddy maintenance levels over the weekend.

SA Roadlink is still at odds with Transport MEC Bheki Cele after his failed bid to withdraw it operating permits after a freak accident that left 11 people dead and 18 injured on the south coast in Hibberdene last week.

Cele's decision was put on hold by the Pietermaritzburg High Court which ruled in favour of the bus company, allowing them to continue operating in the province.

In just a few hours of the court order stopping Cele move, RTI official impounded SA Roadlink buses on the N3 and took them to Mkondeni roadworthy testing centre.

Three SA Roadlink buses were allegedly unroadworthy while two had no permits. Other impounded buses belong to SA Tours, Gumede Transport and City to City.

Spokesman for Transport department Nonkululeko Mbatha said all buses impounded had a number of defects.

"The buses had a lot of deficiencies including faulty braking systems. Out of five buses belonging to SA Roadlink, three were unroadworthy while two had no operating permits," she said.

Mbatha said other coaches belonging to three other companies also failed to meet the standard of public transport.

"All impounded buses were posing a threat to the lives of the passengers. And our law enforcement agency are on the full swing to deal with such predicaments," she said.

Mbatha said SA Roadlink has been the one "trouble some" company involved in many road accidents not only in KwaZulu-Natal but the whole country. It has been dubbed as "slaughter machine on wheels" due to its high accident rate.

SA Roadlink Sam Fidelis said they admit that as a company they might have faults.

"We are trying our level best to ensure that we do not encounter such terrible situations. The death of the people is not any easy thing; it could be my mother too. We have been trying to reach all the families who lost their loved ones in such accidents," he said.

Fidelis said they have dispatched towing trucks to fetch their impounded coaches in KwaZulu-Natal.

He said two of the buses impounded for not having permits were dispatched after the information that some of their coaches had broken down on the way.

"We do not want to see passengers stranded and we have to dispatch any bus available to address to situation.

All the buses that were found to be faulty will be sent to the workshop to be fixed," he said.