The recent tragic accident, in which at least 17 people, including the principal of Cradock Primary, two learners, and thirteen passengers in a minibus-taxi were killed, again highlighted the need for urgent measures to ensure better policing of long-haul taxis.
At the mid-July sitting of the legislature, DA provincial spokesperson on Transport, Dacre Haddon, made some practical suggestions to the house.
This is an extract of his speech:
Effective law enforcement does not just happen! The basic managerial building blocks have to be put in place for effective law enforcement to take place on our roads.
The Department needs pro-active budgeting in order to equip all provincial traffic stations.
The Democratic Alliance welcomes the commitment by the MEC for Transport to introduce a 24 hour traffic patrol in the province following the Cradock school bus accident tragedy on Saturday 21 July, 2012.
However, why is such a commitment made after a tragedy and loss of lives in such a ghastly accident?
If there had been traffic officers deployed at the Eastern Cape road boundary, is it possible that law enforcement intervention by these officers when the vehicle entered the province, could have prevented this horrific accident from happening?
Two years ago I put forward a motion on behalf of the DA that there should be on-going cross-provincial traffic law enforcement. That motion was tabled following another bus accident tragedy involving a bus from the Western Cape.
Clearly, effective sustained traffic law enforcement is ineffective in this province.
Traffic officers need to be motivated, well equipped and have high morale if this province is to radically reduce motor accident deaths on our roads. If managerial basics are in place, then issues like staff morale and willingness to go the extra mile will automatically fall in place.
The Department can’t expect positive results from campaigns such as “Drive Alive” unless the basics of traffic management are in place.
In the Western Cape the Transport Department, under MEC Robin Carlisle, has reduced the death toll on its roads by 28% – from 1 682 deaths in May 2009 to 1 254 deaths in May 2012.
Why has this been achieved?
- The number of staff in Western Cape blood testing centres has quadrupled
- Drivers with outstanding warrants can’t transact with eNatis until their cases are finalised;
- Breathalyser testing is to be re-introduced under improved regulations; and
- The Western Cape Provincial Traffic Bill will give the MEC powers to create appropriate and applicable traffic regulations in the province.
Here in the Eastern Cape we need to do the following:
- The Department needs to do an urgent re-prioritising of the budget to ensure that all traffic stations and offices are adequately resourced;
- A skills audit and training of officers where we establish the greatest need;
- Immediate decentralization of traffic station management from district to station level;
- Every traffic officer needs to be equipped with full and correct uniform, rank insignia, and relevant equipment.
If the department implements these recommendations as soon as possible, this province will see the fruits of effective traffic management for many years to come.