Victims of car crashes in the EC at night must wait for assistance

Victims of car crashes in the EC at night must wait for assistance

If victims of motor vehicle accidents between 10pm and 6am are hoping to receive assistance, they must wait and pray that the incident is close to where a traffic officer on standby lives.

This is because the various Transport MECs and the Department have since 2018, failed to set up a 24/7 law enforcement programme for Eastern Cape roads.

While they twiddle their thumbs, people are losing their lives on our roads. In recent days, at least 18 people have died in four fatal crashes on Eastern Cape roads. Ten of those — eight in Xhora (Elliotdale) and two in Pearson. Six others died in an accident on the R61 near Corhana in Mthatha when a bakkie and a Toyota Quantum minibus taxi collided on Saturday morning.

In response to a parliamentary question, Transport MEC, Xolile Nqatha, revealed that response times for incidents and accidents in the Eastern Cape vary between 10 minutes and one hour, based on the distance between the traffic officer on patrol and the area the incident or accident took place.

He said that, between 10pm and 6am, response times for incidents and accidents could be longer as traffic officers are typically off duty during these hours. Those on standby during this period respond to accidents/incidents only upon notification, and respond from their homes, negatively impacting response times.

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Should a 24/7 traffic law enforcement programme be rolled out in this province, such as what the Democratic Alliance has been advocating for since 2014, there would always be officers on patrol. Their presence would act as a deterrent for dangerous activities such as speeding, reducing fatalities, and in the unfortunate event of an accident, response times would be drastically improved.

It is simply unacceptable that the Eastern Cape is still the only province in the country that does not have a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week provincial traffic law enforcement programme in place.

The DA welcomes the additional 54 traffic officers that will soon be joining the ranks of traffic officers, bringing the total number to 551, as announced by MEC Nqatha. It is vital that these officers are provided with the necessary resources and used to improve the safety of our province’s roads.

The DA will continue fighting for fully-fledged 24-hour traffic law enforcement in our province. No one should ever have to endure the fear and helplessness of lying trapped in their vehicle, on a dark deserted stretch of road, wondering if help is going to come.