'Songs, ecitement drive my passion'
A longtime employee of bus company PUTCO derives the greatest joy from transporting Zion Christian Church congregants for the annual Easter weekend pilgrimage to Moria.
Daniel Ntimene of Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, says he loves the "specials", as he refers to long-distance trips, especially when these involve ZCC pilgrims.
Ntimene has been driving PUTCO buses for the past 33 years.
"They get excited on the bus, especially during the Easter event. Because of their happiness and excitement, the more fun there is on the bus, and the less tired i feel." Ntimene says.
The veteran, who has been involved in only one accident in his long career, said his love for driving heavy-duty vehicles began when he decided to get his driver's licence in 1980.
"When I got my licence, I wanted to drive trucks because I wanted to go on long-distance trips. But i thought about how bored I would be alone on the road, so i decided to drive buses."
Ntimene says, as Sowetan caught up with him as he prepared for the long drive to Moria tonight.
He adds that his decision has served him well, because there is always fun to be had driving buses, especially when all roads lead to Moria.
Ntimene, 57, says he often takes the long-distance trips to Moria during weekends. He has been driving between Gauteng and Limpopo for the past 27 years. "We used to go every weekend but now we have shifts. For the weekend trips we would take about 20 buses," Ntimene says.
That, however, does not compare to the number of buses they use for the Easter weekend. "This year we are estimating between 250 and 270 buses (from his area)," he says.
He says part of the fun is listening to the songs that are sung during the six-hour bus ride. As a ZCC member himself, Ntimene always joins in on the singing. He says after the bus ride is over, the weekend is filled with activities to keep people entertained.
"There are choirs and different cultural groups singing and dancing" Ntimene says. "And, then there is the bishop's sermon."
Ntimene says he thought the reason for the church's popularity is that everyone, even people who are not ZCC members, are welcome in the church's events, even pastors from other churches. Ntimene says he ensures that he is well-rested for the exhausting drive back.
"I cannot take part in all the activities during the weekend because I need to be fresh for the drive back to Johannesburg."
"On the return trip, there is little or no singing, as people are tired. So, I need to be sure that I can keep myself awake." The downside? The traffic and possible accidents. A lot of things can cause accidents." Ntimene said.
"But I would say that some people are impatient on the road. You need to remember that you have people's lives in your hands."
Ntimene says for his own peace of mind and for his safety and that of the passengers, he always ensures that there is a team leader on the bus whom he can speak to when things get too rowdy.