POLITICS

Every bus and taxi must be checked - Sibusiso Ndebele

Transport minister issues instruction after another horrific bus accident

Minister Ndebele on spate of bus crashes

31 Aug 2011

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has instructed law enforcement agencies to stop and check every bus and taxi on South Africa's roads with immediate effect.

The Minister's instruction follows the road crash in the Eastern Cape last night (30 August), in which 11 people died when their bus overturned near Aberdeen on the R61 towards Beaufort West.

Yesterday afternoon (30 August), five people were killed in Gauteng when their bus overturned near the Murrayhill toll plaza, north of Pretoria.

At least 76 people have been killed this month (August 2011) in eight separate crashes involving public transport vehicles (buses and mini-bus taxis) in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Gauteng and Eastern Cape.

'This is out of hand,' Minister Ndebele said. 'We want to convey condolences to the families of those killed in these road crashes, and wish the injured a speedy recovery. We have instructed law enforcement agencies to stop and check every public transport vehicle, including buses, taxis and scholar transport vehicles, across the country with immediate effect.

As part of the new National Rolling Enforcement Plan, the month of September will be dedicated to public transport enforcement. The safety of commuters is paramount, and all public transport vehicles will be monitored closely by transport authorities.

"We cannot have public transport operators who are only interested in making a quick buck, no matter what. The South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) must be commended for their Operation Hlokomela, through which the taxi industry themselves are monitoring their drivers and operators to ensure that they adhere to road rules. We call on the bus industry to do the same.

All public transport operators must ensure that their passengers are transported safely and reliably. Basic minimum quality standards must be in place to transport passengers in a safe, efficient and reliable manner. As part of this global Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 to 2020, we call upon public transport operators to take responsibility for the safety of their commuters," the Minister said.

During 2009, the Department of Transport conducted an investigation into road crashes relating to the passenger bus industry. The investigation revealed that from January 2007 to June 2009, 415 bus accidents occurred in which 689 people were killed. Major contributory factors included un-roadworthy vehicles and driver error (speed too high for circumstances, fatigue, lack of concentration and driving whilst under the influence of alcohol).

As part of the new National Rolling Enforcement Plan (NREP), from 1 October 2010 to 31 July 2011, 11 745 526 vehicles and drivers have been checked, 4 847 526 fines issued for various traffic offences, 17 758 drunk drivers arrested and 46 843 un-roadworthy vehicles (the majority of which are buses and taxis) discontinued from use.

Addressing Transport MECs and senior officials at a MinMec (a coordinating body chaired by the Minister and primarily comprises of the Deputy Minister, nine MECs for Transport and other key officials) meeting in Cape Town on 23 August, Minister Ndebele called on MECs to ensure that road safety programmes in the various provinces are intensified in line with the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 to 2020.

The meeting agreed that the following five priorities must be urgently addressed by provinces and municipalities:

1. Improvement in the methodology and collection of road traffic crash data;
2. Service Level Agreements to be concluded with regards to transport deliverables, particularly road safety and traffic law enforcement;
3. The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) to intensify investigations into acts of corruption and poor service delivery at Licensing Centres;
4. Enforcement on drunk driving to be stepped up; and
5. Provision of 24-hour traffic law enforcement to be rolled out across the country.

Statement issued by Logan Maistry, Department of Transport, August 31 2011

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