I delivered this statement during yesterdays sitting at Western Cape Provincial Parliament, regarding the bus crash last Friday that has devastated so many.
“The ACDP joins the people of South Africa in conveying our sincere condolences to families and friends of the 22 people, including two children, who lost their lives in the tragic bus accident on Friday 15 March.
ACDP Representatives gathered in Site C on Sunday with members of the community and the 12 Apostles Church to show support for and pray for the victims and their families, and to pray for the speedy recovery of the dozens of passengers who were injured in the accident.
The ACDP welcomes the investigations announced by MEC Carlisle and notes the Bus Company, Atlantic Charters and Tours, statement that their carrier operating permit that was issued in January 2013 was valid until 2016, while the vehicle licence and operating disc were valid until August 2013. It is concerning to note that the bus’s RWC had expired just two weeks ago. We trust that the investigation will also answer concerns raised that the arrestor beds appeared to have had little to no effect in slowing the bus down.
The ACDP notes Atlantic Charters and Tours statement that on the day of the crash, just four hours before the accident, the bus was stopped in Beaufort West by WC traffic officials and taken to the provincial testing station where it was inspected thoroughly for roadworthiness and overloading, and that there were no issues found with the vehicle. Assuming this to be so, the ACDP joins those calling for answers, not only as to why this crash occurred, but what exactly the WC Traffic officials tested just 4 hours before the accident. We want to know what these tests are, where they performed thoroughly and are these tests sufficient to stop the carnage on our roads.
The ACDP will keep a close eye on the investigations, trusting that the truth will be uncovered so that further crashes like this will not be repeated. This accident comes nearly three years after a similar incident on the same stretch of road in May 2011 claimed the lives of 23 people, and after 14 school children lost their lives in the Rheenendal accident in August 2011. This trend is clearly unacceptable and must be stopped.
This is also not a good start to the Easter Road Safety Campaign.
The WCG has made much of its Safely Home campaign and the relative successes it has achieved, but if this very high profile campaign comprises elements – such as the stopping and testing of long distance passenger liners, where patent and latent defects are not picked up and addressed before the bus proceeds any further on its route – then these stops are nothing more than a paper exercise but that can have the effect of misleading drivers into believing that everything is fine with the vehicle they are driving, when it may not be.
This is of great concern to the ACDP and we require urgent answers.
The ACDP urges all road users to be vigilant, extra cautious and to obey all the rules of the road at all times, especially over holiday periods, such as Easter which is upon us, when traffic on our roads increases dramatically.”