HUNDREDS OF BUSES REMOVED FROM KZN ROADS
||Scores of buses on KwaZulu-Natal’s roads
are un-roadworthy. This shocking fact was revealed recently as bus
operators started to feel the sting of the KZN Transport
Department’s Operation "Thath’ Iskorokoro" in which
unroadworthy vehicles are being removed from the roads.
The operation was officially launched by KwaZulu-Natal MEC for
Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Mr. Bheki Cele at the Bus and
Taxi Indabas held on 16 and 17 March respectively. Cele called on bus
and taxi operators in the province not to put profit above the lives
of commuters. The Bus Indaba which was held in Pietermaritzburg was
attended by more than 300 bus operators and the taxi indaba held in
Durban was attended by more than 3000 taxi operators.
The main aim of the Indabas was to sensitise bus and taxi operators about the
increasing number of road crashes involving their vehicles, as well as to
emphasize the important role this sector can play in the growth of the
province’s economy. The Indabas also served as a platform for operators to
raise issues of concern and seek clarity regarding new legislation and policy
governing the bus and taxi industries.
Cele said that more than 80% of South Africa’s population utilise public
transport and therefore public transport operators are responsible for a major
portion of people’s lives. "Government has a responsibility to ensure
that you make your money but that people’s lives are not lost in the process.
It seems that the majority of bus and taxi operators merely purchase vehicles to
make a profit and are simply not interested in providing an effective and
efficient service. But this is the reason why many public transport operators
are transporting so many of our people to the graves. Only a few days ago the
door of a bus was shut on an elderly lady in Durban even before she was able to
safely get off the bus," said Cele.
"The importance of public transport in the majority of our people’s
lives cannot be over-emphasised. Public transport operators have a
responsibility to ensure that commuters are respected, that commuters are
provided with a safe, efficient and affordable service and that they are not
killed in our hands. Speeding, overloaded and un-roadworthy buses and taxis are
a major problem. We must realise that the people who are killed in these crashes
are not just ordinary passengers; they are fathers, mothers, daughters and
sons," Cele said.
"In certain instances an entire family is wiped out in these crashes. We
have visited several families after these crashes and I can assure you that
these crashes are much more than just statistics. When you leave statistics and
deal with families your entire understanding changes," said Cele.
"Let’s get back to being human beings; we are public transport operators
and not undertakers. We must respect the laws of our country. Let’s transport
our children safely to school. Please, ‘let us defend the weak’," Cele
Head of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport Dr. Kwazi Mbanjwa stressed
the importance of the public transport industry for the 2010 Soccer World Cup
and announced that Operation "THATH’ ISKOROKORO", targeting
unroadworthy public transport vehicles will be intensified. "The high
number of bus and taxi crashes is unacceptable and therefore enforcement will
not be debated. We will ensure 100% compliance. Road Safety is not only
government’s responsibility. It seems that for too long only the drivers of
buses and taxis were arrested and the owners escaped, but owners must also be
held accountable," Mbanjwa said.
Operation "THATH’ ISKOROKORO has already seen bus companies lose a
large section of their fleet after several buses were found not to be safe for
the road. "We are going to do a proper job and ensure that all buses and
taxis are safe. Most of the drivers we spoke to said they had spoken to their
owners about the condition of their vehicles, but the owners had threatened to
fire them," Mbanjwa said. Since the launch of the operation, hundreds of
unroadworthy buses have been removed from the province’s roads.