Concern as 80 die on EC roads
Yesterday, provincial transport spokeswoman Khuselwa Rantjie announced that the government would only officially release the festive season death toll in a speech by national Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi on January 17.
However, the Dispatch understands that the number of those who had lost their lives on our roads since December 1, stands at just over 80 so far, with the number expected to drastically increase over the next two weekends .
Rantjie also said that service delivery protests near Aliwal North had led to a stop-start flow with police constantly intervening to clear the road of protesters.
She said 60000 vehicles had been stopped by law-enforcement agencies at roadblocks across the Eastern Cape this month.
This resulted in 311 drivers being stripped off their licences due to various transgressions, while 90 drivers were arrested, including 45 who were nabbed for drunk driving.
The volume of traffic moving into the province, increased drastically by late yesterday.
Provincial health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the N6 between Jamestown and Komani “has become a very notorious stretch of road this festive season” as several people have been involved in accidents on that road.
“There was an accident this morning where a taxi overturned and 14 people were injured and taken to nearby Frontier Hospital.
“Earlier this week, on the same stretch of road, two taxis from Johannesburg collided and 18 people were injured,” said Kupelo.
He said his department had deployed emergency personnel “in strategic areas such as the Kei Cuttings, Port St Johns and Port Elizabeth, areas most notorious for deadly accidents”.
Rantjie said provincial traffic officers would be out in full force on all major roads over this weekend as commuters make their way to the coast.
Rantjie said provincial traffic chiefs were weighing up whether to implement plans to bring in traffic officers from other provinces to reinforce their ranks during the festive season.
“By strengthening our operations, we want to close every gap. We urge drivers not to be afraid of our roadblocks as this assists in identifying various defects in their vehicles, that some might not be aware of,” Rantjie said.
She said over this weekend, 24-hour roadblocks would be manned on all major national and provincial roads leading to the province, while municipal law-enforcement agencies and police would also assist with visible road policing.
By late yesterday afternoon, Rantjie said the N6 near Aliwal North had been brought to a standstill by service delivery protesters.
“The protest created a standstill and negatively affected those travelling on that route. By late morning police were still negotiating with the protesters in a bid to have easy access and limit congestion in that area,” she said.
In the past festive season, the death toll on Eastern Cape roads climbed to 319, with 240 of those killed after Christmas, an increase of 41 road deaths compared with the same period in 2015.
Most of those fatal accidents occurred in the Chris Hani district, where 139 people lost their lives, with authorities identifying alcohol and reckless driving as major contributors to the carnage. Joe Gqabi district recorded the second-highest number of fatalities with 76 road accident deaths, followed by Alfred Nzo with 42, while 38 died in Sarah Baartman district and 19 in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
Transport, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana yesterday said road fatalities during the festive season had remained unacceptably high and urged motorists to remain vigilant.
Tikana said these fatalities over the years, were mostly caused by not wearing seatbelts, inappropriate speeding, unsafe overtaking, fatigue and drunk driving. — email@example.com