Crackdown on buses, taxis
First fatalities die as holiday exodus gets under way
AS THOUSANDS of people started the annual holiday pilgrimage yesterday over the long weekend and the Christmas holidays, the Western Cape recorded its first few road deaths.
Traffic Chief Kenny Africa said a 61-year-old woman died yesterday after her vehicle’s tyre burst between Hopefield and Malmesbury, causing her to lose control of her vehicle, which overturned.
She died as a result of her injuries.
Two pedestrians and a three- year- old child died between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.
Shortly after 9pm last night a motorist was killedin a collision between two cars on Vanguard Drive. Early yesterday a driver lost control of an Uno while overtaking on the N1 between Leeuw Gamka and Beaufort West and rolled, killing the toddler, said provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa.
A woman in her 30s was knocked down in Knysna, and a pedestrian was knocked down on the N7 near Plattekloof.
Africa said two public transport drivers had been arrested in the province for reckless and negligent driving.
One, the driver of a Roadlink bus, was arrested near Touws River, while the other, a taxi driver, was arrested near Plettenberg Bay.
The N1 between Worcester and Rawsonville was closed around noon yesterday after a Land Rover caught fire there.
Africa said that at 5pm on Thursday vehicles were leaving the city on the major routes at the rate of around 1 300 an hour, with nearly as many arriving. High volumes were also seen between 8pm on Thursday and 2am on Friday, and also yesterday as many taxis and buses returned to the province to reload with passengers and head back to the Eastern Cape.
ER24 spokesman Andre Visser said that nationally they had attended 77 road accidents between 3pm on Thursday and 11am yesterday.
On Thursday 165 long-distance buses and midi- buses were checked at the Joe Gqaba testing station in Philippi. Of these 41 failed and four were suspended.
The principal inspector at the station, Adrian Long, said 230 fines had been issued, and a stolen vehicle was also discovered and three people arrested.
The biggest problems among those that failed the test were brakes and steering, Long said. Those who passed the roadworthy test received a coloured sticker.
Yesterday the centre was quieter, with about 40 buses being checked by around 11am. Long said he expected it to get busier throughout the day as the taxis started returning from Thursday’s trips to the Eastern Cape to fill up again. Hundreds of people were wait- ing at the terminus.
Two buses were suspended while Weekend Argus was visiting the centre yesterday. One bus had failed twice on Thursday and was suspended when he returned yesterday with the same problem.
Inspector Johan Reyneke said that the bus had a system which lowered the suspension as the bus got fuller. But the system had been circumvented, which meant it could be top heavy if it had too many passengers. This meant it could topple over if it travelled at high speeds and on corners, he said.
The second bus had several issues, including a problem with the brakes, the exhaust and the undercarriage. It was also leaking oil.
At the testing centre, curious onlookers gathered to watch the buses being tested, with some even clapping when a vehicle passed the test.
Long said passengers were paying attention to the safety checks done on the buses they boarded.
“Last night a bus failed and didn’t get a sticker, but he still loaded passengers. Then the passengers noticed he didn’t have a sticker and stopped the bus and came and called us,” said Long.
Africa said the provincial traffic department had increased its presence on the roads, particularly along the N1 stretch where a high number of fatal accidents have taken place.
In addition, there would be “no less than 24 roadblocks across the province this weekend concentrating on alcohol and drug use”, said Long.
“We have a zero-tolerance approach to drunk driving, and I want to tell people now that we will lock you up for the whole weekend until you appear in court on Monday.”
Africa added that it appeared “people don’t give a damn about our call not to exceed the speed limit”.
“We are on our knees pleading with people to please cooperate when it comes to safety on the roads.
“We’re also urging people to drive safely and to stop every 200km or two hours, to rest and to stretch their legs and make sure they’re fit to carry on for the next 200km.”
SAFETY FIRST: Johan Reyneke, an inspector at the Joe Gqaba testing station in Philippi, checks the undercarriage of a bus before it heads to the Eastern Cape.