As thousands of people begin the annual festive season exodus from Cape Town back to their families in the Eastern Cape, Transport MEC Robin Carlisle says strict measures to minimise road deaths are being put in place.
The department was also to receive assistance from the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco)
With at least 40 people killed on South Africa’s roads since Friday last week, 30 of them – including 10 children – in a horror smash between a midibus taxi and a truck on the N3 near Harrismith on Saturday, the movement of people from the Western Cape to adjoining provinces was “a matter of great concern”, said Carlisle.
He said almost 90 percent of traffic leaving the Western Cape used the N1, which would be the department’s key focus, with 35 roadblocks being set up along the major transport artery.
Traffic officials at roadblocks, joined by the SAPS and South African Revenue Service, would be on the lookout for drunk drivers; tired drivers; car and driver’s licenses; and check that all passengers wore seat belts, particularly children.
There will be some roadblocks where specialist teams would look for drugs or contraband such as illegal cigarettes, he said.
Carlisle said during last year’s festive season 272 people died along the N1.
“We have set a target to bring that down to 191,” he said.
SANTACO Western Cape chairman Vernon Billet said they would be joining the department’s road safety programme and also initiated their own road safety programme called ‘Hlokomela’.
Billet said taxi drivers whose association were affiliated to the mother body agreed to submit to compulsory stops on long trips in order to combat fatigue.
At the Joe Gqabi bus terminus in Philippi this weekend hundreds of people queued to board buses, midibuses and minibuses this weekend in order to travel back to visit family and friends in the Eastern Cape.
Fezeka Nkoki, 45, accompanied by her four young children each carrying a bag, spent five hours at the bus terminus awaiting to board the next available bus to take her and the children back to the Eastern Cape.
Nkoki said she’d rather take a midibus rather than a minibus taxi as midibus drivers kept to speed limits.
“Taxi’s speed and often get involved in accidents,” she said.
She said she this year was the first time she was returning home since 1996, having saved money “for years” to make the trip, as each one-way ticket cost R500.
She said her four children were born in Cape Town and have never been to the Eastern Cape.
This year they would meet their family members and take part in traditional ceremonies.
“One of the ceremonies is to introduce the children to the family ancestors,” she said. — Peter Luhanga and Sandiso Phaliso