Honourable Speaker, Madam Premier, MEC’s, Members of the Legislature, Officials and guests;
Life has become cheap when it comes to vehicle accidents on our Eastern Cape Roads!
The report before this, states that the most dangerous section of road in South Africa is the N2 from East London to Kokstad.
Honourable Speaker, the committee was then informed that the most dangerous part of this road is the section between Butterworth and Kokstad.
The following are accident statistics I obtained from the department for this section of the N2.
From the period 2010 to 2012 financial years there were 472 vehicle accidents reported.
Therefore, there was one accident every 2.3 days between Butterworth and Kokstad alone over this period.
Furthermore Honourable Speaker, there were 109 fatal accidents during this time.
This equates to one fatality every 10 days, 3 fatalities a month or 36 deaths a year on this part of the N2.
We acknowledge the efforts of the MEC and her department in implementing these education awareness programmes to improve road safety in the province.
However, these education initiatives are really not bearing fruit.
There is a serious problem of vehicle accidents and fatalities across this province which needs our immediate intervention.
If we are serious about road safety and traffic law enforcement in this province then the department needs to prioritize further funding in the area of law enforcement.
We note in the report that the programme Transport Regulation (Traffic Management) has a budget of R 292.63 million for this financial year.
The sub programme Law enforcement is allocated R266.91 million for this year.
However what the report does not show (and as reflected in the Operational Plan and Provincial Expenditure estimates) is that this amount decreases to R 259.89 million in 2014/15 MTEF period.
Of further concern Speaker is that while the budget for Law Enforcement goes down in the MTEF period, compensation of employees increases from R 234 million in 2013/14 to R247 million in 2014/15.
Honourable Speaker, it is of great concern that the Department of Transport has decided to stop overtime payments to traffic officers in order to “cut costs”. In a report in Saturday’s Dispatch it states that motorists will be left vulnerable on the very N2 between East London and Mtatha which I mentioned earlier.
This shows a lack of concern for safety of road users and highlights the “cheapness” of life that the MEC and her department have towards traffic safety.
By reducing overtime for traffic officers will increase accident carnage on our roads.
In addition to this, our traffic stations are ill resourced with equipment and personnel to operate effectively.
This includes a lack of sufficient traffic patrol vehicles and basic equipment for law enforcement like ticket books and bullet proof vests.
This is another contributing factor to horrific accident fatality stats on our roads.
In addition, the Alcohol testing centre in Markman, Port Elizabeth is not functioning because of the legal controversy surrounding the use of breathalysers.
This facility has been a defunct white elephant for the last two years.
Another concern is the non-implementation of the 24/7 law enforcement due to fragmentation of traffic law enforcement agencies.
Finally and of concern is that the department is not placing sufficient budget and emphasis on a comprehensive strategy to deal with the issuing of illegal driving licenses and law enforcement against drivers in possession of these licences.
The issuing and purchasing of illegal licenses by unscrupulous syndicates is big business in this province! This law enforcement chaos has been caused by the usual financial ineptitude and corruption in the Department of Transport.
Honourable Speaker, until we seriously address this issue no Road Safety, Drive Alive or any other traffic safety campaign will be successful in kerbing reckless driving.
In order to address these challenges the province needs a comprehensive and effective and sustained law enforcement policy.
Honourable Speaker, how then given the “cutting cost” exercise in traffic law enforcement can we acknowledge the Honourable MEC’s plan of “Going back to basics” as stated in her policy speech.
In the Western Cape there is a driver and law enforcement safety campaign called “Operation Safely Home”.
This successful campaign has been running since inception in 2009.
The aim of the campaign is to reduce road accident fatalities in the province by 30 % in 2014.
At present the Western Cape campaign is on track to achieve this objective.
The core of the plan entails ensuring sufficient budget to adequately remunerate and equip traffic officers. Furthermore, the plan entails co-operation and co-ordination of provincial and municipal traffic services.
There are many facets to this campaign such as regular and daily road and speed enforcement checks, a comprehensive on going driver and pedestrian education campaign.
Furthermore, there are “ghost” law enforcement vehicles unmarked vehicles that are on the lookout for dangerous and bad driving from motorists.
In addition there is a user friendly comprehensive interactive web site dedicated for the campaign.
During the Festive season for example, several cash prizes of R25 000-00 each were awarded to” fine free” motorists to reward their good driving habits.
A participant can ensure that all their vehicle and personal particulars are correctly recorded with the traffic authorities and be criminal and fine free on the provincial traffic database.
These are just a few of the innovative strategies that the Western Cape provincial government has in place to enhance driver safety.
This province must emulate the “Operation Safely Home Campaign” of the DA government in the Western Cape.
When the DA governs this province we will ensure:
a.) A compassionate and carefully budgeted law enforcement unit is established in this province.
b.) The DA will implement effective driver education and effective driver reward incentives like in the Western Cape.
c.) This will create opportunity for greater economic prosperity for all in the province as cost of fatalities and accidents are reduced by implementing these measures.
In conclusion, it is time for the MEC to resign. The MEC should be held personally accountable for every fatal accident that occurs prior to now.
In fact, Hon. MEC, the DA calls for your immediate resignation in view of the fact as reported in today’s article of the Daily Dispatch YOU KNEW about the corruption in the scholar transport contract.
It is of concern that you acted improperly because you did not report it to the authorities but rather held a meeting to capacitate these fraudsters.