STUDENTS are too scared to use the shuttle service offered by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) after a bus burned out near the Second Avenue campus on Tuesday night, after experiencing a mechanical fault.
This came as university management talks to the taxi fraternity today in a bid to end a feud between taxi drivers and the newly contracted Blunden coaches over student transportation.
While no foul play was suspected in Tuesday’s incident, students said they initially thought the fire was started by taxi drivers who had last week intimidated students and forced them out of the shuttle buses.
Two buses were stoned during the incident on Thursday last week.
Blunden owner Shaeed Blunden said the fire was due to a turbo pipe that burst, spilling oil onto the exhaust manifold and bursting into flames.
"The incident was not because of anyone’s actions or our own inaction. It was a mechanical fault that could have happened to anyone,” he said.
"We are very happy there was nobody in the bus when the fire started. By the time the driver reached the fire extinguisher, the fire was already out of control.”
Students, however, believed the fire was started by taxi drivers "considering last week’s drama”, and some shared their views on social networking sites.
Student Lebo Nakeli said when he arrived at the scene of the fire, students – who came armed with cameras and cellphones to record the incident – thought the taxi drivers "had struck again”.
@Nwaizer Nku tweeted from the scene: "Taxi drivers mean business, people. Blunden shuttle on fire at NMMU!”
Student Representative Council president Yusuf Cassim tweeted: "NMMU Shuttle caught fire. Thankfully nobody was hurt at all. This better not be sabotage.”
The university said no foul play was suspected.