Officials visit Putco training centre

The Roads and Transport Portfolio Committee in Gauteng has expressed "deep concern' over the number of crashes involving Putco buses.

"We are really concerned about the conditions of . these Putco buses and again, let?s not only [look] at the taxi industry and think that other people are complying with the road safety rules .' said Nkomo-Ralehoko.

She said they had to ensure commuters were happy as the province made more progress in the move to further integrate public transport in Gauteng.

According to Nkomo-Ralehoko, Putco gets over R1 billion every financial year to ensure that their buses are roadworthy.

She said when last week?s Putco bus accident occurred in the south of Gauteng, in which 19 passengers died, the portfolio committee was busy working on an intervention strategy, specifically on Putco buses.

"When the accident happened in Meyerton, we were busy with an intervention specifically aimed at Putco buses. It was exactly what we were going to do. check the conditions of the buses, check if the drivers are being trained.

"Our visit is a follow-up on the issues that we?ve been dealing with in terms of trying to verify the causes of this accident,' said Nkomo-Ralehoko.

She said the responsibility of passenger safety not only rested with the driver, but with the bus company management and other stakeholders in the industry.

The committee was concerned at conflicting reports claiming that the bus that crashed in the Vaal was roadworthy, while other reports say it was not roadworthy.

"We are concerned about those reports. Two weeks ago, we had a meeting with commuters who told us that most of the buses are not roadworthy and they even showed us pictures of such buses that are not supposed to be on our roads,' said Nkomo-Ralehoko.

The bus company?s Business Development Director, Andre Sefala, said part of their strategy was hiring the right drivers and giving them the correct training.

"We try our level best to make sure that we recruit the right drivers and we make sure that we give them the proper training. I think the challenge is when they leave training and get into operation.

". A lot of drivers are very good. There would be instances where a person makes an error and at the end of the day, it becomes an accident. But we?ve got teams that are monitoring these people to make sure that our new drivers follow the laws of the road,' he said.

Sefala said all those who were involved in crashes are always taken through a remedial training course before they are allowed to drive the buses again.

Meanwhile, members of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) are still searching for a Putco bus driver who drove through a wall in Mondeor last Friday night.

In March this year, another Putco bus headed for Randburg in the early hours of the morning, ploughed into a house in Braamfischerville, Soweto, killing a couple as they slept inside their home. -