SAnews.gov.za (Tshwane)

South Africa: Over 600 Killed in Crashes Since Start of Festive Season

Over 600 people have died in crashes on the country's roads since the beginning of December.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters on Friday said from December 1 to date, more than 600 fatal crashes have occurred, claiming more than 600 lives.

"The picture we have of fatal crashes on our roads is scary, to say the least. Looking at statistics from December 1, we realise that we are still seriously challenged and required to raise more voices to reach out to our South African community," she said.

The minister was briefing reporters at OR Tambo International Airport on the status of festive season road safety, developments on the Moloto Corridor and a national call to prayer for safer roads.

She said the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) had already started to assist the Transport Department with weekly festive season road safety reports, which will be made available every Tuesday.

Fatal crashes

On December 1, a major fatal crash claiming the lives of 14 people happened on the Wolmaranstad road, 20 km outside Klerksdorp. Nine more fatalities were reported in another crash that happened on the N11 between Middelburg and Groblersdal in Limpopo on December 6.

Seven more lives were lost in a crash on December 12 on the N2 near Uphongolo in KwaZulu-Natal. Just the following day, seven more lives were lost in another horrific crash on the N1 between Laingsburg and Beaufort West in the Western Cape.

Peters said 20 crashes have been reported on the N1, N12 and the R31 in the Northern Cape since the beginning of December.

Most recently, a truck and a bus collided on the R61, 15km from Queenstown in the Eastern Cape, claiming three lives, leaving 25 passengers injured.

RTMC Acting CEO Gilberto Martins said the major contributory factors of the crashes were dangerous overtaking, driver fatigue, excessive speeding as well as drinking and driving.

"We want to once again appeal to our motorists not to overtake when it is not safe to do so; obey traffic rules and roads signs; to refrain from drinking and driving or walking, and we want to encourage our drivers to rest," he said.

Moloto road

Peters said since the fatal crash on Moloto Road on November 11, her department had done tremendous work in addressing short, medium to long term challenges.

She said three important structures were put in place since 2004 to drive the Moloto Development Corridor, namely a Project Management Committee (PMC), a Steering Committee (SC) and a Political Oversight Committee (POC).

These are inter-governmental structures to provide governance and communication on the development of the corridor.

Peters said during a meeting of the POC on Wednesday, the rapid rail option, which was recommended as the preferred option in the feasibility study, was endorsed.

She said further detailed investigation of the rapid rail option will now be conducted with the aim to complete the feasibility study in March 2014.

"A Project Implementation and Management Office will be established within the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to take the project forward towards implementation.

"In order to improve traffic safety on the route, interim road improvement measures will be investigated and implemented in the short term," said Peters.

The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) secretary general, Philip Taaibosch, said: "We are aware that our vehicles are a cause of many (accidents) on our roads ... We are appealing to all taxi operators not to use vehicles that are not roadworthy ... When your vehicles transport our people, ensure that the vehicles are in good conditions."

- SAnews.gov.za

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