By Eric Mashaba
Mbombela – Transport minister Sbusiso Ndebele has urged motorists or members of the public to use a toll-free number to report reckless driving on roads.
Ndebele was speaking during at the recent launch of the 2011 October Transport Month Campaign in Karino near Mbombela, Mpumalanga.
“As we had serious accidents on our roads as from August until September, we urge passengers to also get involved in ensuring their safety by dialling our toll-free number, 0861 400 800, when they see something wrong,” said Ndebele.
The minister issued pamphlets to passengers and urged them to blow the whistle on drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or whose vehicles are unroadworthy.
“Passengers must not keep quiet when their driver is reckless. They must be aware that road safety is their business. We have decided to engage with the education department to ensure pupils are also safe. Parents must also not allow their kids to be transported in vehicles that are not roadworthy,” he said.
Ndebele, who was accompanied by provincial public works, roads and transport MEC Dikeledi Mahlangu, said his department’s main concern was the escalating road carnage in South Africa.
He said he believed the campaign, which involves the Cross Border Road Transport Agency (CBRTA), Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) and the police, would bear fruit.
Ndebele said there were 70% fewer accidents around 1963 when the speed limit was 110km/h.
“It was then agreed that the speed limit should be 120km/h, which the department aims to bring down to 100km/h. With more than 10 million vehicles on roads in the country, lower speed limits will decrease accidents and we can win this war,” he said.
Ndebele added that the department aims to check at least one million vehicles per month, 250 000 weekly and 40 000 on daily basis.
“Our targets are drunken driving, recklessness and negligence, unroadworthy vehicles and overloading,” he warned.
Ndebele and the various law enforcement units conducted a road block in Karino until late Tuesday night.
They issued 302 summonses, impounded 57 taxis and buses and fined their owners R500 each. They also discontinued 41 unroadworthy vehicles, including 19 that were first sent to a testing ground.
Taxi driver, Elkin Magagula, 36, welcomed the campaign, saying it would reduce road carnage.
“We are very happy to see even the minister conducting the searches. It shows that the department is serious about reducing accidents,” said Magagula, who was stopped by the minister.
Godfrey Tivane, 39, a motorist from Mozambique, said the campaign would also reduce the smuggling of illegal goods into the country.
“Crime will go down as criminals will be afraid to transport their illegal items,” said Tivane.
National department spokesman Sello Tshipi said the Transport Month campaign started in September 2005 as Public Transport Month, where commuters were encouraged to use public transport.
“The main objective of the campaign is to promote the use of public transport as well as to combat the high traffic volume which has an adverse impact on the environment due to the high emission of pollution,” said Tshipi.
After the launch, the department rolled out a series of activities that will take place during October Transport Month.
This campaign includes monitoring scholar transport systems, High Occupancy Day to promote public transport, clean-up campaigns at taxi ranks, donation of bicycles, patching potholes, National Youth Service graduations and opening new roads.
“During the October Transport Month, the department will also conduct a number of law enforcement operations,” said Tshipi. – BuaNews