Putco probing incident where passengers escaped burning bus

Public Utility Transport Corporation (Putco) has confirmed that one of its buses was indeed the one that went viral on social media engulfed in flames on Wednesday morning. The bus was en route to Gauteng’s Centurion, Pretoria. 

In a video circulating on social media, passengers can be seen jumping out of the stationary bus on R573 Ditshweneng. As a result, 22 passengers were injured in the incident.

Cause of fire still being investigated

This occurs barely a day before Good Friday. During the time when thousands of people will be travelling to their respective destinations using buses.

Putco spokesperson Lindokuhle Xulu confirmed that the bus belongs to Putco. He said their immediate priority was the well-being of passengers affected by the event. 

“Putco regrets to confirm an incident involving a Putco bus, which caught fire while en route at R573, Ditshweneng. We can confirm that we have provided prompt passenger assistance, particularly in addressing their injuries,” he said.

Putco is still probing the cause of the fire, Xulu added.

Safety of passengers a top priority

“Investigations are still ongoing to determine the cause of the accident. We are actively collaborating with relevant authorities to gather all necessary information. Safety is our top priority. We are committed to ensuring that every aspect of this incident is thoroughly reviewed and addressed.

“Our thoughts are with 22 passengers, who were injured, and we extend our gratitude to the emergency response teams. These include private and state ambulances, for their swift actions and support during this challenging time.”

The government-subsidised public bus company has been dealing with heavy blows since 2022 when five of its buses were torched.

Utility facing accusations of mistreatment of staff

Recently, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) embarked on a march to the Putco offices. The union submitted a memorandum of demands to Putco management.

Numsa accused Putco of victimisation and mistreating its suspended employees.

It alleged that the bus operator dumped human waste in the bush located next to its Soweto depot.

Suspended staff treated unfairly, union says

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola argued that the company keeps these suspended employees as prisoners. They are denied access to clean water and ablution facilities. They are forced to use portable toilets.

These are allegedly emptied outside the Putco premises, posing a hazard to nearby communities. This while the employees are required to report at the depot every day since their 2022 suspension.

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