Johannesburg - An Eldo Coaches bus carrying 65 passengers to Durban from Gauteng, among them young revellers on their way to the Durban July festivities, broke down on the N3 in the Free State on Friday morning.
Passengers said the bus, which was due to depart from Johannesburg’s Park Station at 7.30am, allegedly left the pick up point at well after 8.30am.
The bus broke down about 115 kilometres away from the Johannesburg CBD, just after the De Villiers Toll Plaza. It broke down just before 10am, and passengers had to wait more than two hours for a replacement bus.
A replacement bus arrived just after 12.30pm.
One of the passengers on the bus was Thabile Makena of Pretoria, who was travelling to Durban with three of her friends for a "girls weekend away" and to be merry at the Vodacom Durban July festivities.
“It’s my first time going to the Durban July, so we decided to take the bus because flights were expensive. I’m so angry, I am hungry, I am dehydrated and I am just p####d off, but at least the bus is here now,” said the 25-year-old.
Makena said they had bought tickets for multiple Durban July parties, and intend to attend the pre-party at Eyadini Lounge in Umlazi on Friday night and as well as the All Black Party on Saturday evening.
She said they will also attend the Durban July at the Greyville Racecourse as well.
Explaining her frustrating morning with the broken bus, she said the bus driver did not immediately explain why he had stopped.
“There was no explanation, the driver just stopped because there was smoke coming out of the bus and some of the passengers went out to find out what the problem is. He didn’t explain anything, he just told us to come offload our bags,” she said.
It is understood that there was an oil leak in the bus's engine compartment which rendered the bus could not be immediately repaired on the highway.
Another passenger on the bus said some of the travellers started drinking as they waited for the replacement bus.
They said the replacement bus which was sent did not have enough seats and a man had to give up his seat for a woman who was carrying a baby.
The initial bus had 65 seats, while the replacement bus had 60 seats, they said.
Nomalungelo Mjwara, who was travelling home to visit family in Durban for the weekend, said the trip was frustrating.
“This bus arrived late at Park Station by more than an hour, then it breaks. It really looks like they overbooked and had to hire buses because it is not branded, and even the replacement bus is written Star Bus, it is not an Eldo bus,” she said.
Attempts to get comment from Eldo Coaches were not immediately successful. A company official said staff took lunch until 2pm on Fridays.
* The story will be updated with Eldo Coaches comment.