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Cape Town - The owners of the bus which crashed on the Hex River Valley Pass on Friday - claiming the lives of 24 people - say the vehicle had all the right paperwork and had passed numerous safety tests.
They were responding to transport and public works MEC Robin Carlisle who said preliminary investigations into the bus crash had uncovered certification issues.
Carlisle queried issues such as the operating licence, driver’s licence, the vehicle’s roadworthiness and the safety history of the company.
But in a statement, Atlantic Charters and Tours, the Cape Town-based company which owns the bus, said everything was above board.
They said the carrier operating permit had been issued in January and was valid until 2016, while the vehicle licence and operating disc were valid until August.
Carlisle admitted on Monday that upon close inspection the company’s operating licence was valid. Previously it had been believed by authorities that the licence had been issued on December 25 - a day which the Provincial Regulatory Entity’s office was closed - but this turned out to be a clerical error.
Carlisle did confirm, however, that the bus’s roadworthy certificate had expired two weeks prior to the crash, which he said was a serious concern.
Atlantic Charters and Tours did not dispute this fact, but they said the bus had undergone stringent testing at the Joe Qgabi Bus Interchange at Philippi which has its own provincial testing station.
“In December 2012, during the festive season, it was compulsory for every vehicle to be roadworthy and inspected thoroughly every day before departure. This particular bus in question went through full roadworthy testing about every third day during the (festive season),” said the bus company’s spokeswoman Aneeqah Salie.
She added that on the day of the crash, just four hours before the accident, the bus was stopped in Beaufort West by traffic officials and taken to the provincial testing station.
“(It) was inspected thoroughly for roadworthiness and overloading. Needless to say there were no issues found with the vehicle.”
But Carlisle said the tests conducted by the provincial traffic police in no way constituted the requirements for a road certificate.
“Nor does it relieve the obligation to have a roadworthy certificate.”
The cause of the crash is still under investigation, with brake failure suspected as a possible cause.
Carlisle warned that if mechanical failure was behind the incident, the lack of a roadworthy certificate could have serious consequences. - Cape Argus