Fewer Eastern Cape road accidents thanks to lockdown restrictions

The Eastern Cape has recorded fewer road accidents.
The Eastern Cape has recorded fewer road accidents.
Image: Supplied

Stricter law enforcement, coupled with increased lockdown regulations, led to a decline in road accidents and traffic offences across the province.

These were the preliminary reports from national and provincial traffic officials but transport minister Fikile Mbalula will make the official announcement on festive season accidents in the weeks to come.

Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) spokesperson Simon Zwane said intensified law enforcement for the festive season would slowly decrease as offices, factories and schools reopened over the next few weeks.

“Everyday operations will slowly return to normal.

“We will probably see heightened law enforcement for another week or two, and then we expect to return to business as usual ... business as usual with current Covid-19 and lockdown regulations in mind,” Zwane said.

He said the official statistics would only be made public later, but the lockdown had had an impact on traffic volumes. However, the Eastern Cape was still a concern.

“The Eastern Cape is always challenging. We still saw many cases of drunk driving and vehicles that are not roadworthy.

“But one of our biggest concerns in that area is people driving without a license.”

When asked if enforcing lockdown regulations distracted traffic officials and other law enforcement from performing their normal duties, Zwane said the additional protocols were no extra burden.

“We are not asking our officers to go anywhere they have not been before.

“ We are only enforcing the law, and we are working closely with the police to ensure the proper protocols are followed.”

Provincial transport department spokesperson Unathi Binqose said they were expecting a slight spike in offences as holiday travellers returned home and traffic volumes increased over the next few days.

“One of the biggest contributing factors to the flatter season, where we saw less accidents and fatalities, is definitely the ban on alcohol.

“We have seen a significant drop in drunk driving compared to previous years,” Binqose said.

“But we will continue to monitor the roads, especially long-distance routes, as people return home from their holidays.”

Despite the so-called “flatter” festive season, metro police officials in Nelson Mandela Bay still went out in force over the New Year’s weekend, arresting 53 people and issuing 693 fines.

Safety and security political boss, councillor John Best, said a total of 26 roadblocks were held throughout the metro between December 31 and January 2.

“A total of 2,450 vehicles were stopped, of which 45 were taxis, and we issued 693 fines for various offences such as overloading, unroadworthy vehicles and unlicensed drivers, among others.”

Of the 53 arrests, 30 were for breaking the 9pm curfew.

“We are happy to report that the recent stricter lockdown, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, had the desired effect as we noticed a remarkable decline in activity this year,” Best said.

He said it was encouraging to see the Bay only reported 73 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, continuing the downward trend of infections.

“We will continue enforcing the law in the interest of public safety and request residents to guard against coronavirus-fatigue as we are still firmly entrenched in the fight against the pandemic,” Best said.

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