Easter road deaths: 40% increase shows Department of Transport regresses in ability to manage road safety
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) says the dire situation of a 40% increase in road fatalities in South African over the Easter period sends a clear signal that our government is ineffective and unable to deal with this ongoing problem. “We are extremely concerned over the fact that 225 people died on the country’s roads in such a short period, especially since it shows an increase of 40% when compared to the same period last year,” says Andrea van Heerden, OUTA’s senior legal project manager.
Despite the Department of Transport’s “Decade of Action for Road Safety” programme, running between 2010 and 2020 and aligned with a United Nation's initiative aimed at improving global road safety and reducing road deaths and serious injuries by 50%, the situation in South Africa continues to worsen with the carnage increasing year on year.
Our country has seen a number of transport ministers come and go over the past decade (around seven since 2009), with each one committing to do something about this serious problem, and yet we fail to move South Africa from the list of the 20 worst countries in the world when it comes to road deaths per capita.
Aside from the claims of increased policing visibility during high traffic volume periods such as Easter or Christmas, we fail to witness any different or impactful initiatives introduced by the Department of Transport to meaningfully tackle road safety in South Africa.
Furthermore, in recent court hearings, the Department of Transport appears to be hanging its hat on planned AARTO amendments as being the panacea for our road fatality problems. “OUTA believes the AARTO amendments will not reduce road fatalities, just as it has not done so in the two metros where it has been applied (Joburg and Tshwane) over the past decade," says Van Heerden.
OUTA firmly believes that an adequately funded lead agency, more visible policing and a national strategy with measurable targets to tackle issues of road safety, are long overdue. “This strategy should include accountability attributed to those in various positions when such targets are not achieved. All of these measures are crucial components of a sustainable response to road safety. Anything less will continue to see this injustice to South Africa citizens continue unabated,” Van Heerden says.
“We believe it is high time the Department of Transport engages meaningfully with the many credible stakeholders in the transport space and civil society organisations such as OUTA to find solutions to these challenges. We look forward to engage with Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga on this and other pressing matters regarding South Africa’s transport problems.”
A soundclip with comment by OUTA Senior Legal Project Manager, Andrea van Heerden is here.
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