Pretoria - With the long weekend to mark Freedom Day and Workers' Day just around the bend, Transport Deputy Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga has reminded all South Africans to be cautious and patient with one another on the roads.
We all have a right to be on the road. We need to be patient with one another - that is our message this long weekend. Nobody is supposed to die, simply because it's the long weekend. It can't be, Deputy Minister Chikunga told SAnews.
The Deputy Minister on Wednesday interacted with taxi drivers and commuters at the Bosman taxi rank ahead of Freedom Day, which celebrates the country's first democratic elections on 27 April 1994. South Africans will also mark Workers' Day on 1 May.
The Deputy Minister said she is aware that most people are already travelling to their various destinations and as a result, the department is reminding the taxi industry, as well as all South Africans, to place safety first.
We are here to remind everyone that we are going to have yet another increase in traffic volumes on our main routes and national roads. Also this long weekend is falling on the end of the month, we are so concerned that when people have money, they tend to drink and drive. We will therefore be focusing on the national roads and provincial routes as well, she said, adding that officials will also be on watch at residential areas.
Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi recently announced that 235 people lost their lives on South Africa's roads during the Easter long weekend. This was an increase of 79 (51%) from 156 over the same period the previous year. The statistics were recorded from 13 to 17 April 2017.
Looking at the number of accidents and fatalities that happened during the Easter weekend, [especially] those affecting pedestrians, we are so concerned that it might actually increase if we do not put more measures in place this long weekend because people will have more money, said the Deputy Minister.
With increased traffic volumes also expected on Friday, the Deputy Minister urged South Africans not to speed.
Let us not speed because speed in countries like South Africa accounts for 50% of fatalities and fatal crashes. We ought to be patient with one another, knowing that we have no less than 12.2 million drivers in South Africa to date. We need to know that we share our roads - some are pedestrians, others are cyclists, passengers and motorcyclists, among others.
Our message to South Africans is 'slow down, let's save lives', she said.
Meanwhile, South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) President Philip Taaibosch called on taxi drivers and owners to ensure that vehicles are roadworthy.
All our drivers should understand that the roads in South Africa are a shared space, so we need to respect one another and give others a chance on the roads. We must all arrive alive. We also thank commuters for their continued support, said Taaibosch.
Both the Deputy Minister and Santaco President took various questions from taxi drivers and owners on an array of concerns including public driving permits (PDPs) and the wearing of seatbelts.
Source: South African Government News Agency