Crack­down on buses, taxis

First fa­tal­i­ties die as hol­i­day ex­o­dus gets un­der way

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PEOPLE - BIANCA CA­PA­ZO­RIO

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.”

bianca.ca­pa­zo­rio@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: ROSS JANSEN

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.

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