Festive Travel – “One Life Lost is One Too Many” on The Road

By Sinazo Mkoko

The 2023/24 festive season road safety campaign was officially launched by the Minister of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga, along with other MECs and relevant stakeholders on Sunday, November 26, at the Tsakane stadium in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng. The official launch came a week after World Day of Remembrance. Delivering her keynote address, Hon. Chikunga stated that this holiday season, like the Easter holidays, is one of the busiest traffic times on the country’s roads as there are several movements between provinces. She said it is also a time when South Africa sees a large influx of tourists from nearby countries visiting the country.

Outlining Plans For This 2023/24 Festive Season Campaign

Hon. Chikunga vowed that the Department of Transport, in collaboration with provincial and municipal traffic departments and transport agencies such as the Road Traffic Management Corporation, the Road Traffic Infringement Agency, the Cross-Border Road Traffic Agency, and the South African Police Service, will once again go out to make the roads safer during this time.

She said they start the festive season inspired by the achievement recorded last year, which showed that road traffic crashes decreased during the six weeks of the festive season. “Last year, crashes dropped by seven (7) percent from one thousand three hundred and ninety-five (1395) crashes to one thousand two hundred and ninety-nine (1299). On the other hand, fatalities decreased from one thousand eight hundred and eight (1808) to one thousand five hundred and sixty (1560).

“However, these figures will always remain a tip of the iceberg, as our intentions are to halve this number of car crashes and fatalities by 2030, as is the global target set by the United Nations. We will therefore not lower our guard this holiday season. Hon. Chikunga added that support from the private sector, the interfaith community, and committed motorists will inspire and “guide law enforcers to protect and serve our travelling communities during the forthcoming festive season.”

She said they will be deploying personnel and technologies across the country to prevent incidents and accidents, especially in high-risk accident-prone locations. She said every province has been given a target to achieve to ensure that they can move the country on a solid trajectory towards the attainment of the 2030 target of halving road fatalities. “Therefore, everyone is called upon to put their shoulders to the wheel to ensure a better outcome this season and throughout our 365-Day Road Safety Campaign. It is against this backdrop that we will be intensifying our efforts and interventions in the five provinces that contribute more than 80% of road crashes and fatalities. The following provinces, which are Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga, will receive focused attention this year with nighttime deployment of traffic officers and road safety activations that are intended to improve pedestrian safety.”

She added that their interventions will be based on a six-point approach that will drive the activities of all provinces this year. The strategy asks for actions to address pedestrian safety, vehicle roadworthiness, public transport overload, drunk driving, speeding, and warrant execution. “Special instructions have been issued for all provincial authorities to conduct public transport inspections of buses and taxis at ranks before they join the freeways, weighbridges to remain open, and malayshas to be guided to weighbridges to ensure height and load compliance. “Heightened operations are to be undertaken on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Corridor operations will be undertaken during peak travel periods, linking provinces that share borders. Twenty-four routes which have recorded a high number of crashes and fatalities in the past will be prioritised.”

Touching on the issue of criminal activity conducted on national roads, Hon. Chikunga condemned the lawlessness happening on the country’s roads. “I must indicate that our national roads are critical strategic economic assets for this country.We cannot allow lawlessness to be the order of the day. The criminality that have been conducted on our national roads are treasonous. In the short to medium term, we are deploying our law enforcement on national roads. In the long term, we are currently looking at making all our national road network smart roads,” she said.

The World Day of Remembrance

Speaking about the importance of the World Day of Remembrance, Hon. Chikunga said they have convened with leaders and members of the interfaith community, as well as representatives from many transport stakeholders, to pray for divine healing and strength for the families of road traffic casualties. “We are here as a nation to say enough is enough. One life lost is indeed one too many. We are here to say, remember, support, and act. We are here to commit to being safety ambassadors and to strictly follow all road safety rules. Let us always pray that over this festive season we should not experience the carnage that has come to so shamefully define our roads. It is for that reason that for this year our theme is FIKA USAPHILA; let’s all ensure that we Arrive Alive by leaving no one behind.” – Hon. Sindisiwe Chikunga.

Source: SA Gov | DoT 

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