Home South African Grim Easter weekend road death toll expected

Grim Easter weekend road death toll expected

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Reflecting on a tragic bus accident that claimed 45 lives in Limpopo on Thursday, the minister of Transport said that the department had been shocked by the number of lives lost.

Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga speaks with a taxi driver at the Mariannhill Toll Plaza in Durban on Monday. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo, Independent Newspapers

AS EASTER holidaymakers embarked on their journeys home, the country’s transport minister engaged with motorists at the Mariannhill Toll Plaza in Durban on Monday.

Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga visited the toll plaza where traffic authorities conducted a multi-disciplinary operation.

Reflecting on a tragic bus accident that claimed 45 lives in Limpopo on Thursday, Chikunga said that the department had been shocked by the number of lives lost.

The bus had been taking congregants of the Zion Christian Church from Botswana to Moria. It plunged off a bridge and crashed in a ravine. Only an eight-year-old girl survived the crash.

Chikunga said the high death toll meant that the country would not record a decrease in the number of fatalities over the Easter weekend this year.

“We had that unprecedented accident in Limpopo with 45 people dying. That makes us not to expect any decrease (in fatalities). Other provinces such as Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, even Northern Cape this time around are not recording any decrease in terms of fatalities. We are not releasing statistics yet but we are looking at trends,” said Chikunga.

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla is expected to visit Limpopo to monitor progress made by health authorities and other stakeholders with efforts to identify and repatriate the victims and human remains following the bus crash.

A total of 75,961 vehicles were stopped and checked, and 916,927 drivers were issued traffic fines for various infringements. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo, Independent Newspapers

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) said about 900 vehicles were impounded nationally and over 1,000 drivers arrested since the beginning of the Easter weekend.

Most vehicles were impounded in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga for violation of public transport operating permits. Arrests were made for drunk driving, producing falsified driving documentation, reckless driving, driving without a licence and overloading of goods and passengers.

“Moreover, 75,961 vehicles were stopped and checked, and 916,927 drivers were issued traffic fines for various infringements. A major concern during the festivities of the Easter holidays, was the usage of unworthy vehicles on the road, of which 274 of them were discontinued.”

Chikunga emphasised that the Transport Department was enforcing the law across the country and warned that unroadworthy vehicles would be removed from the roads.

During Monday’s operation, by about 10.30am, one arrest had been made for a fraudulent licence disc and 21 minibus taxis were removed from the road for various reasons.

The minister said they were guided by surveys which had suggested that 70% of South Africans travel by taxis, therefore the roadworthiness of these vehicles was a priority.

She also highlighted the issue of reckless driving, which she said was influenced by factors such as drinking and driving and speeding.

“There are quite a number of people who are drinking and driving, particularly in the residential areas. These Easter holidays fell at the end of the month, so that means some of our people have money and you see them queue for alcohol and then they drive under the influence of alcohol, which increases the number of accidents.”

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