'it is our DRIVERS'

PUTCO has blamed its drivers for causing accidents on the Moloto Road.

The company said the last two accidents which claimed 15 lives, were a result of recklessness by their drivers.

A report submitted by a delegation led by managing director Franco Pisapia, director of business development Andrew Sefala and business unit manager Bazil Govender at a meeting with Gauteng and Mpumalanga MECs for transport, said the company was willing to deal with the problem.

The meeting was called by MECs Bheki Nkosi and Clifford Mkasi.

It was also attended by executive mayors of Dr JS Moroka and Thembisile municipalities Inah Masombuka and Victor Nkosi respectively. It was held at Zebra Country Lodge in Pretoria yesterday.

Mkasi said the company stated that it had conducted investigations into the causes of the recent accidents and "found that the problem lies with the drivers".

He said they welcomed the report including the interventions the company came up with, saying "we will study the report and we also want to see improvements on the areas of concern".

The interventions aimed at eliminating the accidents on Moloto Road included, the immediate reduction of speed limit from 100km an hour to 80kmh; put an end to overtaking on the killer road; drivers should keep a 66m following distance on that road to allow them enough time to react; to take their buses four times in a year for roadworthy tests; look into the welfare of their drivers to ensure that they remained in a right frame of mind; give them expert training as well as donate three ambulances to improve the response time during accidents on the Moloto Road.

The bus company also blamed passengers for allegedly putting drivers under pressure to go beyond the speed limit because they were getting late for work. The meeting also heard that some of the responsible drivers were previously assaulted for driving at normal speed.

Regarding the introduction of a rail system between Pretoria and former KwaNdebele, Mkasi said the project was delayed by lack of funds and his government would again approach National Treasury and the National Government for funds.

Nkosi said they had plans in place for the festive and that it was crucial to have visible law enforcement along the road. He said his department would work together with Mpumalanga when coming to policing of the killer road.

The two executive mayors described the meeting as successful and hoped similar future gatherings would help to eliminate the road carnage. Victor Nkosi said they have a total of 548 Putco buses to transport commuters daily between Gauteng and the former KwaNdebele.

He said as local government, "we have to improve signage and introduce clear markings on the road. We have also introduced a multi-jurisdictional accident centre that would be operated by traffic officers, police and all providers of emergency services from both provinces."

He also said they welcome the findings that the cause of the accidents was "human error and we would like to see Putco also looking into the structures of their buses so that they provide enough and visible emergency exits for passengers".

He also called for the installation of stops between the last traffic light at the intersection of Baviaanspoort Road and Moloto Road in Pretoria to Moloto village in Mpumalanga in order to avoid driver fatigue. The stretch of road is estimated at 40km and there is not a single stop sign except for bus stops.