Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula says 774 people have died on the country’s roads in January alone. He was speaking at the M2 freeway in Johannesburg during the launch of a campaign that will see road statistics released monthly.
Mbalula says most crashes occurred between Saturday and Monday and that in 90% of them, human error was the contributing factor.
“Today is another momentous occasion. A moment when we release our inaugural monthly road statistics, that will help us keep the finger on the pulse on the impact of our interventions,” says Mbalula.
The minister says the monthly release of road statistics will not only help reduce the carnage on the country’s roads but will also assist officials to observe the trends and where necessary, augment or modify the current law enforcement interventions.
He says last month’s focus was on vehicle roadworthiness and load management.
“3 338 vehicles were discontinued and 2 762 were impounded as a result. The numbers for January may appear significantly high in relation to the festive season period, this is due to the fact that the festive season statistics included the first two weeks of January.”
Drunk driving remains a challenge
He says in January alone, 1 672 roadblocks were conducted where over 740 000 vehicles were stopped and checked. More than 173 000 traffic fines were issued with nearly 4 900 motorists arrested for various offences including speeding, operating unlicensed vehicles, driving without valid licenses, and driving under the influence of alcohol.
“Drunk driving operations will be scaled up starting on Thursdays and will continue throughout the weekend. The message we want to emphasise is that there will be no more Phuza Thursdays. And those who want to drive must organise alternative transport. As we firm up our planning for the Easter travel peak period, we take into account the data that emerges from the monthly monitoring to the effectiveness of our interventions.”
Safety of scholar transport
Last week, nine learners between the ages of five and 13 were killed when a minibus taxi they were travelling in overturned in Mpumalanga. This has once again put the spotlight on unroadworthy scholar transport.
“It is premature to say whether the scholar transport vehicle was unroadworthy, our guys are still doing the technical report on that basis. It is a common phenomenon that all the vehicles that are transporting scholars are checked on a six-month basis. And we cannot rule out the possibilities of any deficiencies during the period of six months,” says CEO of the Road Traffic Management Corporation Makhosini Msibi.
Skills and competencies of traffic officers
Msibi says they have been engaging labour unions since 2016 for a 24 hour, seven days a week roster for traffic officers. And that as from next year, the qualification of traffic officers will now be NQF level 6 and no longer NQF level 4. He says this will help improve their skills and competencies.
“On the other hand, we are ensuring that we have our traffic officers 24/7 because most of the accidents happen during the evening and during weekends. So, most of our deployments will be during those times in terms of our traffic officers.”
Fraud and corruption
Mbalula says body cameras will be rolled out nationally to help deal with fraud and corruption. He says great strides are being made in reducing the backlog in the issuing of driving licence cards.
Mbalula says despite technical glitches experienced on the first day of the launch of the online system, a total of 112 transactions were done within 48-hours with a monetary value of R63 000.
The glitches have since been resolved.