Twenty-five people died and 62 others injured on Monday the 2nd of March when a bus rolled down a steep embankment in South Africa’s coastal Eastern Cape province. This sad incident has once again raised concerns about the issue of road safety and roles of law enforcement officers in ensuring safe roads in South Africa.
As President Ramaphosa said the incident “forces us to focus yet again on the need for transport providers and other road users to exercise care and consideration on our roads.”
The Road Traffic Management Corporation acknowledges that road safety remains one of the biggest problems facing SA transport system.
Despite having one of the most developed road networks on the continent, South Africa has among the highest rates of road accidents in the region owing to speeding and poor maintenance of some vehicles and roads.
The Road Traffic Management Corporation data shows more than 14,000 people died in road crashes on South African roads in 2017.
In 2018, the figure dipped to 12,921. The fact is that even with the modest reported declines last year road deaths have averaged around 13,500 per annum for 10 years. That’s 135,000 people who have died on our roads in this period.
The problem is a national crisis that requires massive attention, or another 135,000 people will certainly die in the next decade, says Automobile Association.
The problem of road safety becomes worrisome for the country in a year -2020- that marks the end of United Nations’ Decade of Action for Road Safety.
This is a campaign that seeks to reduce by half the number of road deaths in countries. Unfortunately, recent figures of road accidents in the country does not show that this goal is being achieved notwithstanding government efforts to do so.
Stakeholders have called for a complete rethink on the way road safety is approached in SA. This puts law enforcement on the spotlight. Report has it that law enforcement on SA roads is ineffective addressing mishaps on the roads. Hence, there is need for the law enforcement agency to be reformed towards a more effective law enforcement and road management.
Also, law enforcement agents need to face the music for their professional indiscipline and laxity in dealing traffic offenders.
Serious attention must be put on effective licencing of prospective drivers, a more comprehensive approach to rooting out corruption at vehicle testing centres, and better application of vehicle roadworthiness.
In addition, the implementation of Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) need to be reviewed for effectiveness.