Scholar transport back in the spotlight, after pupils aged 10 and 13 die in PMB accident
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DURBAN: There is no proper regulation of the scholar transport industry and no monitoring, by both the Departments of Transport and Education, according to DA member of the provincial legislature (MPL) Dr Imran Keeka.
Keeka was speaking, following a tragic collision between a truck and a taxi, yesterday, which resulted in the tragic deaths of two pupils, aged 10 and 13, on Ohrtmann Road, in Pietermaritzburg.
Provincial police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said it is alleged that on Monday, at 2.30pm, a truck and a taxi carrying pupils were involved in a collision.
“Two pupils, aged 10 and 13, died at the scene. Others sustained injuries and were taken to hospital for medical attention,” she said.
Gwala said a case of culpable homicide and the circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated by Mountain Rise SAPS.
IOL reported yesterday that private security group Mi7 was at the scene of the tragic accident.
Mi7 stated that the driver of the taxi was trapped in the wreckage and had to be freed using the Jaws of Life, and the truck driver was also injured.
Netcare 911 spokesperson Shawn Herbst said when medics arrived on the scene an assessment was done, and it was found that fifteen people had sustained moderate to serious injuries.
“Sadly, two children were found to have sustained fatal injuries and were declared deceased on the scene,” he said.
Keeka said the pupils were using private or informal pupil transport, which is a common mode for those pupils who are not transported by the provincial Department of Transport.
“There is no proper regulation of this industry and no monitoring by both the Departments of Transport and Education. This has remained a constant point of concern, without any indication that there is any plan to either formalise these or regulate them, so that there is no wanton loss of life or injury,” he said.
He expressed his condolences to the families of the two pupils who were killed.
The KZN Department of Education said the Umngeni Circuit Management Centre (CMC), representing the district, visited the two families of the deceased pupils, who live in the Jika Joe Informal Settlement.
“In our conversation with the Mdluli family, it surfaced that the bus was overloaded with 32 pupils, whereas its capacity is only 20 passengers,”said the CMC.
The CMC said the counselling session with pupils was going to be complicated, with the alternating timetables that pupils followed.
“Those who came yesterday were not at school today. The counselling session will continue tomorrow, until all pupils are attended to,” said the CMC.
The CMC said both families need a lot of support during this difficult time.
Both the Gwala and Mdluli families need a lot of support during this difficult time, it said, adding that the Gwala family are planning the funeral for Saturday, while the Mdluli family has not yet decided on the date of the funeral.
In a statement last week, IFP member of Parliament and spokesperson on Transport Khethamabala Sithole said the Department of Transport needs to maintain the levels of vigilance all year round, with buses and minibus taxis transporting pupils being stopped and inspected regularly, to ensure they meet the necessary safety standards.
“The IFP has long been calling for stronger regulations for the scholar transport sector. Pupils have no choice but to accept the transport provided, and it is the responsibility of the Departments of Transport and Basic Education to ensure that the transport provided adheres to the highest safety standards,” he said.
The KZN Department of Transport did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.