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Traffic cops won't be hiding behind bushes this festive season: Minister

Dec 6, 2017
Traffic cops won't be hiding behind bushes this festive season: Minister

High visibility of uniformed traffic officials, clearly marked vehicles and mobile testing stations will be the order the day, as the Transport Department rolls out its festive season campaign.

“The common practice of hiding officers or vehicles to apprehend traffic offenders is counter-productive and antagonises citizens that are normally law-abiding. The challenging situation we are faced with calls upon us to make a fundamental shift and start doing differently this year,” said Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi.

This radical shift will be achieved by ensuring that traffic officers come out of the bushes and crack down on drunken driving as a leading contributor to traffic violations that cause unnecessary crashes and fatalities.

On Tuesday, Minister Maswanganyi unveiled this plan at the launch of festive season campaign in Bela-Bela township, in Limpopo.

The Minister was flanked by his Deputy Minister Sindidiwe Chikunga, Transport Acting Director-General Mathabatha Mokonyama and Limpopo Transport MEC Makoma Makhurupetje.

According to MEC Makhurupetje, Bela-Bela was strategically chosen for the launch as it serves as the gateway to Limpopo tourism and offers access to the borders of neighbouring African countries. This results in extreme traffic volumes in the province.

The department said its plan to deviate from the outdated hide and seek method will see it nab more people who violate the rules of the road. Motorists can expect to see uniformed officers patrol freeways, streets and public places in clearly marked vehicles which is deemed as the best means available for the prevention of road traffic violations.

“In a few days, many employed citizens of our country will receive their pay bonuses and this will undoubtedly set off a chain reaction of alcohol drinking spree that will lead to the loss of lives on our roads.

“This includes the voluminous scheduled travel for leisure and attendance of religious pilgrimages which as well have the capacity to increase road carnages,” said the Minister.

The department anticipates that the weekend leading to December 16 and the extended Christmas long weekend, as well as the New Year’s Day long week will be particularly challenging and taxing on traffic law enforcement officers.

However, the transport department says it is equal to the task and will implement the 24-hour shift for traffic officers this year.

“I call on all road users to not drink and drive, text and drive, reduce your speed, buckle up and beware of pedestrians,” said the Minister.

He said these are human factors that can easily be avoided. If adhered to and implemented, they will lead to a decline of deaths and injuries on South African roads

“Let there be no tolerance for drunken driving, speeding, reckless and negligent driving and all forms of lawlessness on the roads,” said the Minister.

Efforts to curb festive season road deaths

Minister Joe Maswanganyi says the surge in festive season fatalities in the last three years from 1 587 in 2014/15 to 2 006 in 2016/17 shows a need for the zero tolerance approach to law enforcement on the road.

“The statistics again glaringly show that we have a monumental task to improve the behaviour of road users and safety on the roads,” said the Minister on Tuesday at the launch of the Department of Transport’s festive season campaign in Bela-Bela township, Limpopo.

Five provinces, namely Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, accounted for 73% of all fatalities last year. This festive season, government will strive to combat this by removing unfit drivers and vehicles from the road.

“Those that do not adhere to the standards will not leave the provinces of their origin. Residential areas such as suburban, township and village roads will be policed to ensure that holidaymakers do not cause unnecessary crashes,” Minister Maswanganyi said.

The department said a trends analysis of festive season road crashes shows that over the past three years, road accidents spike over the weekends. A deeper analysis shows that several crashes take place between 15H00 and mid-night, and again in the mornings between 04H00 and 07H00.

“I would like to make a clarion call for us get back to basics and direct our efforts at high risk violations occurring at certain times and places that lead to an increased number of accidents,” said the Minister.

The situation is compounded on long weekends where alcohol consumption spikes, leading to reckless and negligent driving, bold disregard of road rules and an increase in road crashes, injuries and fatalities.

The Minister strongly condemned acts of criminality, such as motorists bribing officers of the law.

He used the launch to remember fallen officials, who died on duty due to the negligence of some drivers.

“I urge all motorists to treat our traffic officers with respect and dignity. Let us all bear in mind that traffic officers have chosen this career to serve and protect the nation against lawlessness.”

He issued a stern warning reminding motorists and the public that an attack against law enforcement officers is an attack against the State and it shall not be tolerated.

“Those who attack them must be pursued, arrested and face the full might of the law,” Minister Maswanganyi said.

He urged municipalities and provincial authorities to ensure adequate protection of traffic officers.

– SAnews.gov.za