Roads Service has come under heavy critcism for refusing to grit a road in Drumsurn where yesterday a school bus was stranded for hours after it slipped into a ditch because of the icy conditions.
The drama happened on the Kilhoyle Road at roughly 8.45am after the bus driver pulled over to let another smaller bus pass. No one was injured in the incident.
A teenage passenger on board explained: “When the driver tried to take off he just slipped further into the ditch and then we felt the bus go over a wee bit. The recovery bus came but, at first, it got stuck too. We couldn’t get out the normal door because it was up against the hedge and we were really scared the bus was going to tip over on its side.”
The 16 year-old said the other pupils moved over to the right hand side of the bus “to make sure the bus didn’t go into the shuck”. She also praised the bus driver for reassuring students they would be okay.
“It was really scary. We definitely had a lucky escape. If we had been on the other side of the road, well I don’t think I’d be standing here today,” she said. “It’s a disgrace the road isn’t salted. I don’t understand why this road is any different from other roads. There are lots of people who live here and it’s a bus route. It should be salted.”
The teen isn’t the only one who thinks so.
Sinn Fein councillor Brenda Chivers has been asking Roads Service for several years to add the road to their gritting schedule but has repeatedly been told “it doesn’t meet the criteria”.
“I understand Roads Service can’t salt every road, but this is exceptional. This road is heavily used, children cross it at the bottom to get to their school and it’s a bus route. I mean this is just the start of the winter weather and it could get much worse,” she feared.
“Will a life have to be lost before something is done? We could have been looking at a tragedy here.”
A Roads Service spokesperson said: “Gritting was carried out on the main routes in Limavady last night and again this morning (Monday). Roads Service focuses its resources on routes carrying 80 per cent of traffic and unfortunately the Kilholye Road does not meet the set criteria to be included on the gritting schedule.”
A Translink spokesperson confirmed heavy duty recovery equipment was used to remove the bus late yesterday afternoon.