The Department of Transport has invited all transport stakeholders to contribute to the formulation of a road safety strategy for 2016 to 2020. Transport Minister Dipuo Peters told attendees at a National Road Safety Strategy Engagement Summit at the weekend that the strategy would serve as a blueprint for all road safety interventions that needed to be implemented to create safer roads.
“It is an undeniable fact that South Africa has a serious challenge with regard to road safety,” she stated, adding that the country’s road death rate of 23.5 per 100 000 people in 2014 was far higher than the global average of 17.4 fatalities per 100 000 people. “The scourge of fatalities and injuries rob our people, among others, of their rights to life, to pursue their freedom of trade occupation and profession as enshrined in our Constitution,” she noted.
Meanwhile, Peters highlighted that some progress had been made, as South Africa experienced reduced road traffic fatalities, with the figures dropping from 15 419 in 2006 to 12 702 as of 2014. However, she pointed out that the decrease was not at the rate required for South Africa to realistically meet the international aspirational goals set out by the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 to achieve a 50% reduction by 2020.
Peters noted that the upcoming Easter holiday and long weekends, when many people would be travelling on the country’s main roads, provided the opportunity to start reducing accidents and fatalities, as well as reduce road accident costs.
The Department of Transport has been asked to look at ways to construct railway lines in rural areas to increase integration with other modes of transport in rural communities.
This comes after the department conducted public consultations on the National Rail policy in Mpumalanga, part of a nation-wide process.
Participants have urged the department to ensure that commuters who are using trains are safe at all times.
The Director for Rail Policy Development in the department, Hlengiwe Sayd, says participants also urged the department to ensure that commuters who are using trains are safe at all times.
“The other issue that was raised that we agreed on but then we haven’t really touched much on but we are going to address in response to stakeholders, is the issue of rural rail passenger transport.”
Mpumalanga is one of the provinces that are producing coal in the country. Most of the coal is transported by trucks.
The South African National Taxi Council says it fully supports the establishment of the National Rail Policy
Some of the delegates who attended the Stakeholder Consultations on Green Paper on the National Rail Policy in White River raised concerns that coal trucks continue to damage the province’s road network.
They believe this should be addressed by the envisaged national rail policy. However, others are sceptical as they believe a number of truck drivers will lose their jobs if the coal is transported by rail.
Provincial Secretary of South Africa Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), David Khambule says they support the idea that coal should be transported using trains but they will not be delighted to see people losing their jobs.
“If it happens that there is a reduction of trucks on the roads, surely this will affect us negatively as a trade union because some of our members will lose jobs, but I don’t think we should encourage that.”
The South African National Taxi Council says it is fully supports the establishment of the National Rail Policy.
Santaco’s Secretary in Mpumalanga, Sphiwe Sibanyoni says the consultation has assisted them to get clarity on other issue regarding the rail sector.