In 1939, when public transport for ‘non-whites’ was scarce, Mr Sivalinga Dass saw the need for buses in the Lamontville-Umlazi areas. He traded his farm-van for a second-hand bus to found one of the first private black services, Lamontville Omnibus Services, today known as South Coast Bus Services, parent of the S Dass Group of Companies.
Mr Dass’s vision was to provide an affordable and on-time bus service for the community. He worked 18 hour days acting as driver, conductor and mechanic. As a people’s man, he listened to passenger concerns over tea in their homes, planted trees to shelter waiting passengers, repaired roads himself and paid school fees and bail for victims of the apartheid laws. The community reciprocated with loyalty and friendship, even protecting his family in the 1949 riots. This relationship is nurtured through his family’s ongoing support to schools, community projects and regular dialogue with passengers.
Mr Dass’s son, Pickey, joined the company in 1963 and took over as MD some years before Mr Dass passed on in 1983. Supported by a dedicated team in Terry Murugan, the GM and Upen Ramlakhan the Operations Manager the service has survived and thrived through the challenges of the public transport industry.
77 years on, the business that started with one man and one bus, now operates throughout the South Coast.