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Death ride to schools

Botho Molosankwe

A WET engine due to an oil leak, torn and loose seats, non-functioning wipers, no hooter, a cracked windscreen and worn-out shocks.

050712. Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy today visited the Randburg Testing Station to observe the inspection of scholar transport as the vehicles were being tested for roadworthiness. Senior Provincial Inspector Frik Nel discover that the bus leaks some oil.Picture: Dumisani Sibeko. Credit: INLSA

This is the condition of one of the 27 scholar-transport buses which the Gauteng Department of Education sent to the Randburg Testing Station on its massive safety drive yesterday.

The purpose was to check whether the buses are safe.

The department spends at least R165 million a year on 117 bus companies that use their 700 buses to transport 50 000 school children.

The operation started last week when 485 buses were tested. Only 285 of them passed the test.

Yesterday, 27 buses were tested. 14 passed and the rest failed.

The department also has four Putco buses in its fleet. All passed yesterday’s roadworthy test.

Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy said the owners of the buses that failed the roadworthy test would be given seven days to repair their fleet. The buses have to return on July 13 for a retest.

If the bus was still defective, it would be removed from the department’s fleet, the contract cancelled and the business given to another service provider.

In the past, she said, there had only been two minor accidents.

“We have a better safety record because of these safety checks and we feel that this process is bearing fruit,” Creecy said.

Testing station manager Charl van Heerden said most of the problems found with the buses tested were defective brakes, oil leaks and steering-wheel defects.

While the focus was on the transport the department subsidised, Creecy said, the department was concerned about private vehicles that transport children to school.

She said the department relied on traffic police to remove the unroadworthy ones from the road.

Frik Nel of the Gauteng Traffic Police said that during an operation in Laudium, Pretoria last month, 95 of the 120 vehicles checked had been found to be unroadworthy.

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