TAXI TRAGEDY: INTER-PROVINCIAL COOPERATION NEEDED

The 19 Eastern Cape residents that were tragically killed in Wednesday’s taxi accident should serve as a wake-up call to the provincial traffic authorities that more needs to be done to keep death off our roads. This is particularly so in the run-up to the festive season when traffic volumes between provinces increase at a rapid rate. (subs: please note that due to the mangled state of some of the bodies it was reported that there were 20 bodies, but there were 19.)

The province needs to affect a greater degree of control over vehicles leaving this province. All too often vehicles leaving this province are involved in tragic accidents.

The DA calls for the Eastern Cape government to urgently establish a protocol between the Eastern Cape and neighbouring provinces during the holiday season where there are high traffic volumes. This would involve issuing a secure sticker on all long-distance passenger vehicles (taxis and buses) acknowledging that they have been checked before leaving each province.

This dilemma is bigger than simply the problem of one province. Traffic safety cannot be tackled in isolation. There needs to be greater inter-provincial cooperation.

Each province needs to certify vehicles are fit for the road. Such a check would certify that they are:

• Safe;

• Not overloaded;

• Have the required operating permit;

• Public driving permits;

• Vehicles are properly licensed; and

• Trailers are fully functional and safe.

If this protocol was put in place it would ensure that only those long distance vehicles that do not have stickers on would be pulled over at road blocks and would save a lot of the frustration that passengers might have with long waits. I know that my colleague in the Western Cape, Minister Robin Carlisle, would be amenable to such an arrangement but this would only become a worthwhile exercise if there was inter-provincial cooperation.

I have today written to the MEC for Transport, Thandiswa Marawu, with this suggestion. My colleague, Veliswa Mvenya, DA provincial spokesperson on transport will pursue this matter further.

The DA extends its condolences to all the families of the deceased and it is our earnest hope that there will not be a repetition of this terrible tragedy over the coming festive season. The impact on families is devastating.