PUTCO has insisted that the bus that crashed through an embankment and landed in a ravine, killing 19 people, was “a quality bus” that had passed a roadworthy test on June 14.
But it has admitted that the roadworthy test was done at its privately owned testing centre, located at its bus depot in Pennyville, Soweto.
The bus was among the 25 coaches from a fleet of 38 Putco buses that failed the roadworthy test in Meyerton, south of Joburg, on June 12.
The buses should have been taken for a further retest on June 21, but this was not done. Three days later, bus number 7167C veered off the road and landed in a ditch, leaving 19 dead and 55 injured.
Yesterday, Putco defended its decision to test the bus at the privately owned testing station, saying it was fully accredited and has the same status as government testing stations.
But this did not go down well with Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, roads and transport portfolio committee chairman in the Gauteng legislature.
The committee conducted an inspection visit at Putco’s workshop and depot.
“I am not happy that the company that does the testing is operating from within Putco’s depot. This means that there is a serious conflict of interest,” she said.
Nkomo-Ralehoko said the committee had been inundated with concerns from commuter organisations about the poor condition of Putco buses.
Meanwhile, 50 Putco buses were impounded yesterday along the notorious Moloto Road for contravening the National Land Transport Act.
The buses were impounded by the Mpumalanga Public Transport Inspectorate as part of the National Rolling Enforcement Plan operation to check compliance by public transport operators.
According to Collins Letsoalo, acting CEO of the Road Traffic Management Corporation, 18 of the impounded buses had no permits and 32 were found to have been defective.
The most common defects were faulty brakes and steering mechanisms, and excessive oil leaks. They were impounded and fined R2 500 each.
Also yesterday, several luxury coaches – three belonging to SA Roadlink, three to Intercape and one from City-to-City – were taken off the road in KwaZulu-Natal.