25 dead in bus crash: cause still ‘unknown’
By Khuthala Nandipha
Africa’s Best 350, the Mthatha company that owns the bus that crashed and killed 25 people on Monday, March 2, 2020 in Centane have not yet concluded their investigation on the cause of the accident. Unfortunately, the driver of the bus and his wife passed away on the scene, while 62 people were injured.
Chief Executive Officer, Nosipho Ngewu acknowledged the challenging conditions under which they operate; which she says are a harsh terrain and the impact of bad weather conditions on such terrain.
“The Chebe route disaster has inflicted a deep wound to the families and the AB350 family. We took a conscious choice to provide ‘safe and reliable’ transport to the deep rural communities of the province, despite the state of the roads. The company cares for the less privileged who need to connect to daily services in town, not available in their villages,” said Ngewu.
Lubabalo Mabuyane, the Premier of the province warned political parties to not use the tragic accident for cheap political point scoring and finger pointing. “When the time is right, law enforcement agencies will furnish us with the details of what happened,” said Mabuyane.
Locals claim that they have been complaining about the Chebe route for years, asking for it to be widened and tarred. According to the Department of Transport there was never a plan to tar the route but rather to fix a route to the Thafalofefe Hospital coming from town, as part of the Meander Road and the designs for that section are complete.
“Almost every year, an allocation is made for the maintenance of this route including re-gravelling. Mabuyane announced plans to re-surface the route prior to the accident. We are reprioritising our Capital Plan to accommodate the announcement made by the Premier,” said department spokesperson Unathi Binqose.
The Road Traffic Management Corporation is conducting an investigation with the Police. Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula said there will be regular reviews of procedures to ensure vehicle fitness, ensuring that drivers are fit to drive public transport vehicles.
The majority of the people who died in the bus accident were elderly pensioners, young children earning grants and some were not employed. A mass memorial service or a mass funeral service is being considered.