New Transport MEC must step up this Transport Month

Issued by Marshall von Buchenroder, MPL
Shadow MEC for Roads and Transport

October serves as transport month and an opportunity for the Department of Transport to showcase infrastructure. New Roads and Transport MEC, Xolile Nqatha, will however have his work cut out for him to get his Department in order.

Over Heritage Day weekend more than 20 people lost their lives on Eastern Cape roads, causing pain and loss to families, particularly when they lose a breadwinner. Sadly, this carnage is not limited to holiday weekends. People are losing their lives on our roads on a near daily basis.

The Eastern Cape’s roads have become lawless frontiers where people do what they want, regardless of what the rules say, because there is no law enforcement.

We are the only province in the country that does not have a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week provincial traffic law enforcement programme in place.

MEC Nqatha’s predecessor was apparently too busy extorting bus operators on behalf of her taxi industry cronies to honour her promise of bringing adequate road law enforcement to the province. Or perhaps it was simply not in her associates’ interests that she did so.

Either way, MEC Nqatha would do well to heed the Makhanda High Court ruling last week, that places the onus on him and the national minister to “take positive steps to ensure that reasonable and effective measures are in place to provide for the safety and security of long-distance bus drivers and passengers in the Eastern Cape.”

These steps should not just be limited to protecting long-distance bus drivers, they should apply to all road users.

We need more visible law enforcement officers on our roads, 24/7, who should be adequately equipped to deal with the challenges we are facing in the province.

A significant number of accidents have been linked to alcohol abuse, enforcement officers thus need to be equipped with alcohol abuse testing kits. We need fully equipped interceptor units and should be rolling out new technologies, such as distance over time speed cameras.

As MEC of Roads, the MEC needs to improve on general maintenance, road markings and signage on our provincial roads. As much as vehicles need to be roadworthy, our roads need to be vehicle worthy as well.

The DA will continue to fight for proper law enforcement on our roads, as these laws have been put in place to save lives and make our transport networks safer for all road users.