I am responding to the horrific accident in which 17 people lost their lives when school bus collided with a minibus taxi on the road between Cradock and Graaff-Reinet on Saturday.

Passengers in minibus taxis and busses should be empowered to take control if they feel their lives are being put in danger. They should be able to phone the existing traffic emergency number and know that law enforcement officers will respond immediately should they phone this number. They need to know this number is an efficient tool and that they can trust our police and traffic departments to take action. This number is toll free: 0800 644 644. I have tested it and it does work.

I had a discussion with emergency and rescue services in the province on Monday (subs: 23 July) and they confirmed that this particular stretch of road is indeed one of the three most dangerous roads in the province statistically. The other two are the R61 between Aliwal North and East London as well as the road between East London and Kokstad.

If we already know that these roads are danger spots, why are we not seeing 24/7 patrols on them? Currently, traffic officers can be seen on the province’s main roads until 8pm every day, but chances are you will not see patrols at night or even during daytime over weekends. This needs to change immediately.

I urge the MEC to find money in the budget to establish around the clock patrols on these roads. Truck drivers should be pulled off the road for overloading, drunk drivers should be arrested day and night, long haul drivers should be made to take rest stops and speeding should be brought under control. There are no excuses any more.

Yours sincerely

Pine Pienaar, MPL

DA spokesperson on roads and public works