Make roads safer, urges Peters

Johannesburg - Transport Minister Dipuo Peters on Tuesday said it was important to make South African roads safer to reduce carnage.

"As a country, we freely acknowledge that central to making our roads safer for our kids is the exchange of policy perspectives and initiatives hence we wholeheartedly embrace this conference.

"We will draw from your collective wise counsel great ideas in harnessing efforts towards ensuring the safety of children on our roads," she said in a speech prepared for delivery at the third Africa Road Safety Seminar in Cape Town.

She said the first road crash in South Africa happened on 1 October 1903 in Maitland, Cape Town.

According to statistics, since that crash, about 543 000 people had been killed in crashes on South African roads, she said.

"The rate of road traffic fatalities has reached an unacceptably high level," said Peters.

"Public transport is featuring prominently in the modern economic trajectory of the fifth administration and it is indeed our responsibility to ensure that it is safe."

Peters said the department's commitment included R580m for administration and enforcement of road traffic legislation, over the period 2014/15 to 2016/17.

It also included R51bn for commuter rail infrastructure improvements and new rolling stock and R14bn for bus subsidies in 2014/15 to alleviate congestion on the roads.

For road infrastructure upgrades to ensure better quality roads, the department has committed R9.3bn over 2014/15 and R9.9bn over 2015/16, said Peters.

Peters said according to the 2010 World Health Organisation Global Report on Road Safety, every year around 1.3 million people were killed and another 50 million were injured on roads worldwide.

Scholar transport policy

She said the department and the basic education department were about to finalise the scholar transport policy that would seek to address safety and transport accessibility for students. The policy will be forwarded to Cabinet for approval before it is taken to Parliament.

Peters said the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) had implemented several traffic law enforcement programmes, including overloading control and speed management.

"Over the past two financial years, the RTMC has spent approximately R800m to promote road safety," said Peters.

During the financial years 2012/13 and 2013/14, the Road Accident Fund (RAF) assisted 26 000 people with general damages, 13 000 for the loss of income, 127 000 people for medical care costs and finally contributed financially to 6 300 funerals after accidents.

"The RAF expenditure for the last two financial years amounted to around R55bn in post-crash care and rehabilitation."

Speaking on public transport, Peters said that since 2006, 58 477 old taxis had been scrapped and R3.2bn in scrapping allowances had been paid to taxi operators.

The transport department would invest over R9.6bn over the next three years to rehabilitate 1 100km of roads and reseal 3000km of roads, as well as to re-gravel 3 150km of roads and patch about 810 000m² of potholes.