Drivers nabbed for overloading

Picture: Supplied

Pair due in court after taxi stopped with 40 passengers, bus found to have 40 over capacity

A Port Elizabeth bus driver was arrested yesterday for overloading after he was caught allegedly transporting 130 pupils – 40 more than allowed.

Twenty minutes later, a taxi driver was arrested for allegedly transporting 40 passengers and not having a driver’s licence.

The arrests are part of operations to assess scholar transport vehicles such as minibuses and buses.

Traffic department superintendent Livingstone Simakuhle said a 49-year-old bus driver was pulled over at a roadblock in Markman shortly before 8am.

“The children were en route to Vulumzi Secondary School in Motherwell,” Simakuhle said.

“For this specific bus, the licence allows them to carry 65 passengers sitting and an additional 25 passengers standing.

“He was overloaded by 40 passengers.” The driver was arrested and the bus impounded.

Simakuhle said a traffic official had first driven the bus to the school, where the children were dropped off.

He said the school had confirmed it had arranged the bus.

“The school was told it must find alternative means to transport the children.

“It is simply not safe to let an overloaded bus transport so many children.”

Eastern Cape transport spokeswoman Khuselwa Rantjie said a preliminary investigation showed the bus was not registered under the government scholar transport programme.

“The law must deal firmly with the operator,” she said.

Vulumzi Secondary School staff referred questions to the education department.

Eastern Cape education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said all transport arranged through the scholar transport programme was done by the transport department.

“We are going to be looking into how this bus was contracted.”

Traffic department acting deputy director of operations Pat Gounder said traffic officials had also arrested a 30-year-old taxi driver near the Lawrence Street and Russell Road intersection in Central.

“The taxi was overloaded by 24 people – it was carrying a total of 40 passengers, a mix of adults and schoolchildren.”

Gounder said the driver was arrested for overloading and not having a driver’s licence or public driver’s permit.

“Overloading is a real issue and we are addressing it,” he said.

Gounder said vehicles were designed to carry a specific weight.

“This [overloading] would effectively impact on the braking and stopping of the vehicle as well as the steering and handling.

“Ultimately, this could cause an accident and endangers both the passengers and our motorists,” he said. Bay safety and security executive director Advocate Keith Meyer warned they were stepping up operations to focus on scholar transport vehicles.

“Realistically, if we are able to stop overloading and the use of unroadworthy vehicles on the road, we will prevent accidents.”

Both drivers were released by the police with a warning to appear in court today.

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