EASTERN CAPE ROADS set to get even more dangerous if no agreement is reached

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - AUGUST 19, 2014

Bad news for Eastern Cape road users; there may not be traffic cops on the province’s notorious and dangerous stretches of road after 4.30pm and before 6am starting from September 1. This after discontented provincial traffic officers agreed to defy a new shift system at a meeting in Mthatha on Sunday.

The Provincial Department of Transport this year announced it would enforce a new shift system, Resolution 14 of 2009, which would also see traffic officers working on Saturdays and Sundays as a normal shift – previously, this was regarded as overtime.

At the meeting, which was attended by about 100 provincial traffic officers from five of the province’s six districts - except Cacadu, representing about 500 traffic officers, the traffic cops also restated earlier threats to not work on public holidays.

Impasse

The latest development intensifies a tussle the Department of Transport and the provincial traffic officers.  The Department depends on traffic officers’ willingness to work overtime to cover periods which fell outside the official working hours of 8am to 4.30pm. 

The gravity of it

Early this year, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters announced that during the 2013 festive season, the Eastern Cape registered 158 crashes and 190 people lost their lives. She said the chance of being involved in a fatal accident in South Africa is the highest per capita in the Eastern Cape where traffic-related deaths were still on the increase.

Of the 9.7 million vehicles in South Africa, the Eastern Cape only represents 664 000 or 7% of this number, yet accidents in the province remain overwhelmingly high when compared with those of other provinces and their vehicle populations numbers.

Human error is a major cause for these accidents - especially exceeding the speed limit, the abuse of alcohol by drivers and pedestrians, and reckless overtaking. Now, if the impasse continues on, these bad drivers will be unleashed on the Eastern Cape with noone to check them.