THE DA is saddened by the high spate of accidents and fatalities on Eastern Cape roads last weekend.
Our heartfelt condolences go to the families and loved ones of those who have passed away.
As shadow MEC for transport in the Eastern Cape, I have long advocated the employment of traffic law enforcement that operates 24 hours a day.
The DA believes that the lack of visible law enforcement is one of the major contributing factors to lawlessness on our roads.
While the department of transport has said that there are plans underway for a 24-hour system, we know that this is unlikely to materialise.
Currently, the department faces a backlog with the payment of overtime claims.
All the traffic departments that I have visited cited non-payment of overtime claims as a big cause for concern.
If the department is unable to keep on track with the payment of overtime claims, how will it ever implement the 24-hour system?
No new appointments of traffic officials were made for the 2014-15 or 2015-16 financial years due to insufficient funding for the programme.
In 2016-17, 40 new interns were appointed and in the current financial year, 35 traffic officers were appointed.
This leaves the province with a ratio of 1:1 456 traffic officers to registered road users, which increases dramatically over holiday periods when people visit the province.
Of further concern is the ratio of 1:4 050 patrol cars to registered road users due to a shortage of vehicles.
The Eastern Cape has 88 000 registered vehicles on the road at any given time.
The only way to limit the carnage on our roads is to stop motorists from taking chances by driving unroadworthy vehicles, overloading, speeding and drunk driving.
This can be achieved by visible policing on our roads and by effective traffic law enforcement.
There is a need for consistent monitoring of stray animals on our roads.
The department’s lack of action has fuelled feelings of despondency and lack of morale among traffic officers in the province.
On recent oversight that I conducted, it was revealed that traffic officers do not receive the necessary equipment to do their jobs. Traffic officers complained that uniforms were not provided timeously.
A further claim was that there were not enough traffic vehicles.
Hard-working traffic officers need to be provided with the right resources and timely compensation for their work to continue serving our communities with the commitment that the job requires.
The DA acknowledges that these issues have a negative effect on traffic law enforcement officers, lowering the morale among the officers.
I believe that the MEC lacks the political will to realise the goal of a 24-hour traffic law enforcement system.
The DA remains hopeful that the provincial budget for transport will be increased significantly to eliminate the barriers that prevent the necessary resources and funding from reaching the traffic stations.
We believe that visible traffic law enforcement on our roads will be the first step in addressing these issues.
The DA will continue to fight for the safety of road users — Marshall von Buchenroder MPL, DA Shadow MEC for Transport, Bhisho