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Johannesburg - Angry passengers allegedly forced a Roadlink bus driver to return to Park station after it became apparent that their “wreck” of a vehicle would not reach its destination.
The bus, destined for Durban, had not travelled 2km out of Park station when it was forced to return yesterday afternoon.
An employee of the bus company was seen trying to placate angry commuters at the bus terminus. The passengers had waited three hours for the bus to arrive.
When it finally came, they could not start their long-overdue journey because it was in no condition to make the trip and had a flat tyre, according to those who had boarded the bus.
Mduduzi Makhathini was one of the passengers.
The 37-year-old from Winchester Hills said he had arrived at Park station around 10.30am as his bus was to leave at 11am.
The bus arrived three hours late, and passengers boarded only around 2.30pm.
Makhathini said the short trip out of Park station was unpleasant.
“The bus switched off twice and it did not drive well. You could tell that it was not okay. Passengers were angry and they told the driver to return. He did not object because it was him against many angry people. He stopped at the garage, and that was when we noticed that it had a flat tyre, and when we returned to Park station, the bus was tilted to one side as it drove,” he said.
Another passenger, who was considering taking a taxi to Durban, said they had been told that a replacement bus would be sent from Pretoria.
“They said it could take an hour or two before getting here. The truth is that if it were up to me, I would have written that bus off,” the 39-year-old man from Rabie Ridge said.
A young woman, who was looking forward to getting home to Pietermaritzburg, said she had ignored all the negative media reports about Roadlink and decided to give them the benefit of the doubt.
She was disappointed.
“How could they let us board a bus in that condition? It had tilted to one side, was shaking and it had a flat tyre,” the woman said.
The bus left after 5pm.
This comes after allegations that Scania SA had impounded two buses at Park station the previous evening over non-payment.
A source said Scania had impounded the buses, which were on their way to East London and Cape Town, around 6pm, leaving passengers and drivers stranded.
However, Roadlink’s Hlengiwe Vilakati said this was not true.
Scania SA provided the company with buses and was also responsible for maintenance.
“They had taken them to our depot in Centurion for their usual check-up. Our services are running smoothly,” she said.
Asked why the buses were taken in the evening, Vilakati said: “The evenings are less busy.”
Vilakati was unavailable to comment on the alleged unroadworthy bus. Scania SA refused to comment on the allegation of non-payment, saying the agreement with Roadlink was confidential.
Documents filed at the Johannesburg High Court told a different story to Vilakati’s.
On February 11, Scania SA filed papers, trying to get its buses back from Roadlink as the bus company was in arrears.
Documents filed on the following day indicated Roadlink was R637 253.65 in arrears and had undertaken to pay this by February 18 plus R55 000 in legal costs.