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Embattled bus operator SA Roadlink, whose vehicles have been involved in five crashes this year, is being investigated by traffic authorities.
Road Traffic Management Inspectorate spokesman Ashref Ismail, confirmed on Wednesday that the company was under investigation but he would not go into any detail.
“Investigations are at a sensitive stage,” he said.
On Monday, 17 people were injured in an accident near Estcourt involving an SA Roadlink bus.
The company’s safety record has prompted Western Cape Transport MEC Robin Carlisle to order police to stop every SA Roadlink bus in the province on sight.
“(They must) be pulled over for a detailed inspection of their operating licence, and all relevant transport documents, including vehicle registration and roadworthy and driver licensing,” said Carlisle. “I have been accused of targeting SA Roadlink before. This shows that I did not target them enough.”
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport would not be taking such an aggressive approach spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said.
The department would continue to engage with the company’s management instead, he said.
“Because there have been so many accidents involving Roadlink, it is definitely a cause for concern.”
He said department officials had their first meeting with the company after two of its buses were impounded last month.
“We are still finalising a date for the next one,” he said.
Ncalane said the department would continue with its policy of checking all long-distance coaches.
Earlier this week SA Roadlink rejected claims by a new staff member that the company had been forging permits to enable it to keep its buses on the road.
Weekend reports of the company allegedly using forged permits prompted the DA on Tuesday to call for its operations to be suspended, and for an inquiry to be held.
The City Press reported at the weekend that the employee, Andre Smit, had alleged that the company had forged a letter from the Gauteng roads and transport department so that it looked as if they had written permission for their vehicles to be on the road.
Smit claimed there were many copies of the letter on a shelf of an operating manager’s desk, with only the letterhead of the department, a signature and a date stamp (May 8, 2012) printed on them.
The letter, he said in the report, was photocopied again and again, and then completed with all the details required for a new temporary transport permit.
SA Roadlink spokesman Nolin Padayachee, denied the claims, saying that the bus involved in Monday’s accident had the correct, legal permits.
He said Smit was a duty supervisor at the company’s Cape Town depot.
Padayachee said Smit was supposed to have attended three days of training at the company’s Johannesburg head office before he was to have reported for duty on June 1.
“He never showed up and he never resigned, either,” he said.
“Since he has not resigned, he is in violation of his confidentiality agreement (the signing of which is compulsory for all employees),” he said.
“We have already been consulting our legal team and will be taking action against him.”
Smit’s claims were “just allegations”, Padayachee said.
He said he did not want to call Smit a liar although he told the Witness newspaper that Smit had fabricated the story.
Padayachee intimated he was misquoted by the Witness and claimed he would be contacting the newspaper.
DA MP Ian Ollis, the party’s transport spokesman, issued a statement after the weekend reports.
“This is the most recent in a long history of complaints about the lack of roadworthiness of the vehicles and dangerous accidents relating to SA Roadlink,” he said.
Ollis called on Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele to suspend SA Roadlink’s services until such time as a full investigation has been conducted into the validity of its licences and permits.
“In the absence of valid and appropriate permits and licences, SA Roadlink is endangering the lives of its passengers,” Ollis said.
“The Minister cannot allow this to continue unchecked.”
Padayachee said that SA Roadlink would respond to the DA’s call only when it received a “summons”. - Daily News