Lives at risk
Friday, 24th May, 2013
By Craig Brealey
An apparent act of sabotage to a bus that runs between the city and Menindee could have resulted in people being killed, according to the bus company.
The bus carrying five passengers was returning to Broken and was about 10 kilometres out of town on Tuesday morning when the driver noticed that it was shuddering, said Trevor Cutjar, the NSW Regional Manager of Buses ‘R’ Us.
The driver checked the wheels and found that the nuts on the front offside one had been loosened, Mr Cutjar said.
“The driver and passengers’ lives were put at risk because someone had undone the wheel nuts and put them back on hand-tight,” he told the BDT yesterday.
“The bus travels at about 100 kilometres an hour so you can imagine what could have happened if the wheel had come off.
“Putting people’s lives at risk is not real bright.”
Mr Cutjar said that the wiper blades had also been tampered with so that they did not do a full sweep of the windscreen, and that two spare wheels had been stolen over the past two weeks.
The bus was back on the road yesterday with five new studs in the wheel and a new rim because the loose nuts had wrecked the other one by elongating the holes, he said.
Mr Cutjar also said he thought it was sabotage and not the result of an aborted attempt to steal the wheel.
“The bus hadn’t been jacked up; the nuts had been undone.
“The wiper blades were also working and now they’re not.”
The Menindee bus runs Monday to Friday and the driver stops overnight in the township and returns to Broken Hill the next day.
The driver used to park the bus in his yard, Mr Cutjar said, but now it is being parked at the police station until another safe place can be found for it.
Buses ‘R’ Us runs the service for the Central Darling Shire Council and Mr Cutjar said he would consider withdrawing it if the sabotage and theft continued.
He said this would be a shame, especially for one of the passengers who comes to Broken Hill twice a week for kidney dialysis.
But the company could not afford to keep paying the cost of the damage and theft, and having that bus out of service meant that it had to hire another one for the Mildura run, he said.
Police are investigating and they described the incidents as “alarming”.
“Whoever the person is that is responsible for stealing these wheels and the dangerous act of loosening the front wheel are placing people who use the service at risk of injury or worse,” said Detective Inspector Mick Stoltenberg.
“They are also placing this community service at risk of being removed from Menindee due to the safety risks.”
DI Stoltenberg said police were “very keen” to speak with anyone who could help them find the culprits.
He said they should contact police in Menindee or Broken Hill or phone Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.
Mr Cutjar said they could also call him and he would pass any information on to police.