KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Mr Mxolisi Kaunda;
Her Worship the Mayor of EThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, Cllr Zandile Gumede;
Speaker of Mgungundlovu District Municipality Cllr Edward Dladla;
Other Mayors and Councillors present;
Traditional leaders, in particular, Inkosi S.E Mdluli from the KwaMdluli Tribal Authority, and Induna UMlaba from the Ximba Tribal Authority;
The Leadership of the ANC, the ANC WL, ANC YL and other parties in parliament;
Faith Based Leaders from various denominations present,
Enyonini Church President E.T Nkonyane and President B.B. Khwela
Pastor Z Jali;
Chairperson of the Road Accident Fund, Dr Bhengu and other Government Entities Present;
Officials from all Spheres of government;
Taxi and Bus Associations present;
Members of the media;
Programme Director, Mr Sbusiso Buthelezi;
Ladies and gentlemen;
On behalf of the government of South Africa, I bring condolences to the bereaved families and friends, the government of KwaZulu-Natal, the Enyonini Church and the affected communities. Be comforted!
To those who are recuperating in hospitals, we wish them a speedy recovery.
To the bereaved families and survivors, be not afraid during this dark hour of your lives, you will not walk this journey alone, the ANC government will be with you every step of the way right to the end.
Ladies and gentlemen, government is increasingly concerned about the number of road deaths we continue to have along our national, provincial and municipal roads.
Whilst we put crosses and wreaths as memorials in areas where our loved once have fallen as a result of road crashes, these memorials also point to an unfortunate state of affairs about the behaviour of some of our road users.
South Africa has a road death toll of 23.5 per 100 000 of the population, which is way above the global average.
Most fatal crashes in South Africa involve young men, between the ages of 18 to 35. These road crashes rob families of their loved and impacts negatively on the welfare of the family because most of them are bread winners.
According to recent statistics speeding, distracted driving (Cell phone usage) and driving under the influence of alcohol are largely the contributing factors of the road crashes.
Statistics further indicate that these driving crimes increase during peak traffic periods such as Easter and the Festive holidays with most of the crashes happening at night.
It may have become somewhat of a cliché, but it still remains frighteningly true – speed kills! In fact speeding is a leading cause of the majority of crashes on South African roads. It is imperative for motorists to obey all speed limits, including those at construction areas on the road.
Using a cell phone while driving is currently considered the biggest cause of road crashes in South Africa. A recent report stated that up to 25% of road crashes are caused from using a mobile phone while behind the wheel, be it for talking or texting purposes. Doing so is dangerous.
Alcohol remains a leading cause of death on South African roads. Despite this, the same old question continues to be asked – how much can one drink and still drive? The answer is quite simple –
Don’t drink at all! It is a proven fact that one’s driving ability is impaired after just one unit of alcohol.
Ladies and gentlemen, as government we have elevated the issue of road safety to become a national priority.
We have put policies in place, made changes to legislation and regulations, empowered our traffic law enforcement officials and allocated more resources to government agencies such as the Road Accident Fund (RAF), South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) to introduce solutions that leads to safer road environments.
Cabinet has approved the National Road Safety Strategy, which is the blueprint of our efforts to fight the scourge of road fatalities and injuries in our country.
We continue to learn from global experiences and are following the Safe Systems approach to road safety as adopted by the United Nations, which is called the “Decade of Action” to bring down the accident rates on our roads.
In order to further ensure that we bring the necessary punitive measures to offending road users, we will implement the ‘points demerit’ system, which is part of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act, 1998.
In the event that a driver commits a traffic offence, a pre determined number of points which are allocated to that offence will be awarded against his driver’s license.
After 12 points have been exceeded, there is an automatic driving ban for a period in months equal to 3 times the number of points by which 12 is exceeded i.e. if a driver reaches 14 points he will be banned from driving for a period of 6 months. Points can be reduced at a rate of 1 point per 3 month period, providing no further demerit points are incurred during that period.
Should a driver be disqualified for a third time, then his licence will be permanently revoked, and he must re-apply for his learner’s licence and begin the process from scratch, but only after the expiry of the disqualification period.
All this amounts to a serious intent on the part of the government to deal with the continued lawlessness on South Africa’s roads.
Two of the most important catalysts which can bring about an improvement in driver behaviour and law compliance, are well planned, efficient and effective law enforcement, with the support of an equally effective and just road traffic adjudication system, and this is exactly what AARTO will introduce.
Imposing serious consequences on repeat offenders at the same time as being fair on those who comply with the law is a strong incentive to drivers to obey the rules of the road. By changing the mind set of drivers, we hope to effect a significant reduction in the number of traffic crashes and fatalities on our roads.
Ladies and gentlemen, as government, we are committed to deliver on our mandate to provide good and well maintained roads as arteries for economic growth - and also to provide access to economic opportunities for our people.
It is undisputed that infrastructure development and service delivery are crucial for economic growth, and for alleviating poverty, reducing the scourge of inequality and for increasing international competitiveness.
Through SANRAL, we are progressively reshaping the KwaZulu-Natal landscape with current and pipeline projects worth more than R21,6 billion that will redefine the safety and convenience aspects of road transport infrastructure in this province.
The recently completed Mgeni Interchange project is a prime example of government effort to improve safety and substantially reduced congestion at this busy road. Prior to the upgrade of the Umgeni interchange, approximately 14 000 to 16 000 vehicles were travelling through the interchange during the morning and evening peak hours.
We are currently upgrading the Mount Edgecombe Interchange on the N2 north of Durban. This project is jointly funded by SANRAL and the KZN Department of Transport to the value of R816million.
Construction work for the upgrade of the N2 between the Mtunzini Toll plaza and the Empangeni T-junction north of Empangeni is under way since March 2016. This major 37 months, R950 million construction project, will see this 34km single carriageway road upgraded to a four-lane dual carriageway freeway.
Also included in the contract are provisions for pedestrian safety measures in the form of walkways and public transport pick-up and drop-off areas separated from the main traffic.
Another project aimed at reducing crashes and improving road safety in KZN is the elimination of curves at Umhlali River Bridge and Umvoti River Bridge on the N2 North.
We have successful completed the Blackburn pedestrian bridge (north of Durban), Tshelimnyama pedestrian bridge (west of Durban) and Modelkloof pedestrian bridge projects (near Ladysmith).
Pedestrian bridges and walkways have also been constructed at the Mgeni Interchange and another is being completed at the Mt Edgecombe interchange.
Currently SANRAL has three pedestrian walkway projects being undertaken on the N2 at Hluhluwe, Oribi and R22 near Manguzi.
On the R61 on the KZN South Coast, there had been several crashes, some of which have included fatalities, when motorists made illegal U-turns to avoid paying toll. A wire rope barrier is being erected along a five-kilometre stretch.
Vandal-proof fences have also been erected at vulnerable sections of the N3 between Durban and Pietermaritzburg to stop pedestrians crossing the busy national road and to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives.
SANRAL has also developed the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) to optimise traffic flow, improve road safety and improve traffic management.
A new interchange at Kwabhoboza has been completed at a cost of R242 million and it will improve the safety of pedestrians and motorists.
The law enforcement and overload control is fully operational at the newly-constructed overload control centre at Mooi River.
The newly-constructed traffic control centre at Eteza which includes an adjacent interchange is fully operational. This traffic control centre which cost R284 million, will curb overloading on the N2 north and will extend the life span of the pavement and will improve safety.
In order to fast track the construction of a major interchange on the N3 at Hammarsdale (between Durban and Pietermaritzburg), SANRAL entered into a partnership with eThekwini Municipality to share the R276 million cost of the project.
There are scores of other projects running into tens of millions of rands involving periodic maintenance on various stretches of road in the KwaZulu Natal provincial road network.
Ladies and gentlemen, as the comforting arm of government, the Road Accident (RAF) met with the families of the deceased during the course of the week to finalise the funeral arrangements.
Through the RAF, government will further assist the families by originating the loss of support claims for the dependents of the deceased and also assist with post crash care.
As government, we strive to bring the much needed services closer to where our people live.
In KwaZulu Natal, apart from the Regional Offices and Customer Service Centre which is based in Durban, the Road Accident Fund has 17 Hospital Service Centres with 21 Consultants servicing the population of KZN.
These Service Centres are located at major Provincial Hospitals throughout the Province. The RAF does monthly visits to areas where it does not have permanent offices, such as at Ulundi, Nongoma, Manguze, Hluhluwe, Greytown, Nkandla, Bulwer, and Pongola to increase our footprint.
I therefore encourage you to visit all these centres when you need more information or assistance from the Road Accident Fund.
In conclusion, I urge all road users to value and appreciate the meaning and beauty of life for themselves, and fellow road users, by following all road safety rules and regulations.
Being proactive is far more beneficial than being reactive. Remember – road safety is the responsibility of us all!
I thank the provincial government of KwaZulu Natal, in particular the MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Mr Mxolisi Kaunda; the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, the Mgungundlovu District Municipality, the Road Traffic Management Corporation, the Road Accident Fund, the South Africa Police Services, emergency services, traditional leaders, faith based organisations, and the surrounding communities for your swift response in trying to assist the injured when this crash took place.
May the soul of our departed brothers and sister rest in everlasting peace!!!
I thank you.