Today, SA Roadlink seeks legal opinion on the media statement issued by MEC Robin Carlisle. SA Roadlink is in the first phase of its massive turn-around strategy and will not take MEC Carlisle’s deliberate targeting lying down. Since 2008 MEC Carlisle has stated that his efforts are not purely directed at SA Roadlink however his recent media statement issued gives blatant evidence of exactly the opposite.
Ever since 2008 SA Roadlink coaches have been pulled off the road in the Western Cape, thus the MEC’s so called new strategy is not new to the company. In fact SA Roadlink staff has been told by numerous traffic officials that they have been ‘instructed’ to pull over SA Roadlink coaches in particular. “We are totally aware of the victimization. From a business perspective we are extremely concerned at the lack of inspections of other coach companies. It would be interesting to review reports by the MEC’s department on the testing of other coach and bus companies both local and intercity. All we want is fair and equal treatment. Safety is our number 1 priority and all of our coaches go through a rigorous pre-trip inspection before every trip” says Piet Cronje Fleet Manager of SA Roadlink.
In his statement MEC Carlisle is referring to coach 404 that was pulled over at Beaufort West on Monday July 25, claiming the permit was incorrect due to route deviation. This coach was clearly not intending to take this route as the passengers were destined for PE and not Cape Town. However the coach was diverted by traffic officials due to the road closures (Noupoort section was snowed in, the N10 between Cradock and Middleton was closed) caused by the heavy snow in the area, thus an alternative route was taken as directed by traffic officials.
Once this coach was released a thorough inspection was conducted by SA Roadlink Fleet Manager Piet Cronje, “in many instances this coach was not defective as per the NRTA (National Road Traffic Act) read with SANS (South African National Standards) 10047 Manual for the Testing of Motor Vehicles for Road Worthiness. Regarding the windscreens on the Volvo Marcopolo bodies 99% of them are not stamped ‘shatterproof’ because they come from Brazil. The windscreens fitted by Marcopolo Bodies are in line with SANS 5.23 (f) & (g) as the windscreens are visibly marked with all the required markings, except ‘safety glass’. If this windscreen is in contravention of South African legislation, then every Marcopolo coach operating in South Africa must be in contravention of the said legislation. Thus all Marcopolo Coaches irrespective of the coach operator should be inspected by the traffic officials. Marcopolo bodies have passed the homologation test process of the SABS with the said windscreens. With regards to the so called defective brake system the traffic officials did not supply a printed break test report to SA Roadlink.”
Last month saw SA Roadlink take a bold move by launching the first series of its entirely new fleet of coaches. Previously tarnished with negative publicity, SA Roadlink has come out strongly with a massive turnaround strategy to counteract past allegations. SA Roadlink is very serious about changing its public perception. Considering the recent recession and the very competitive passenger transport environment one would say SA Roadlink has made a courageous move in purchasing an entirely new fleet of coaches.
The fleet is being rolled out in phases with the KZN route having received the first new coaches. As the new coaches come off the production line they will be introduced into the fleet to entirely replace its existing fleet. SA Roadlink expects to launch the next phase of its fleet in the Western Cape in the next few months.
“The company has made some enormous changes and massive investments in an attempt to reclaim its spot as one of SA’s leading passenger transport companies. Internally the company has brought onboard a dynamic management team to transform the company from the inside out,” says Cronje.
Cronje continues to say that SA Roadlink is partnering with Scania, a highly recognized giant in the heavy transport industry, to build an exceptional new fleet of luxury coaches. “Scania will provide a fulltime maintenance service programme countrywide for all new SA Roadlink coaches. The coaches have advanced from double to single-decker coaches (approved by the South African Bureau of Standards). For the improved safety precautions, drivers are being re-trained by Scania, ensuring excellent knowledge and handling of the coach and its electronics. In addition to this SA Roadlink has appointed a full time, well recognized, driver trainer. Thus drivers undergo an intensive driver training programme to ensure the best safety and driving practices are adhered to. As an additional safety feature, tracking systems are being fitted in all the new coaches to monitor driving speeds,” concludes Cronje.