The killing never stops

Thou­sands of peo­ple die on our roads ev­ery year dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son, but the Road Traf­fic Man­age­ment Cor­po­ra­tion in­sists fatal­ity fig­ures are drop­ping

CityPress - - News - ATHANDIWE SABA athandiwe.saba@city­press.co.za

Close to 8 000 peo­ple have died on South Africa’s roads dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son in the past five years. Al­though the Road Traf­fic Man­age­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (RTMC) claims that the death toll has been de­clin­ing over the years, the re­al­ity re­mains that an av­er­age of 40 peo­ple have been dy­ing ev­ery day on the roads dur­ing the Christ­mas and New Year pe­riod since 2010. Data made avail­able by the RTMC sug­gest there has been some de­cline in the road car­nage.

In 2010, more than 1 700 peo­ple died on the coun­try’s roads be­tween De­cem­ber 1 and Jan­uary 5. Dur­ing the same pe­riod in 2014, the death toll was about 1 300.

Al­though the death toll was mea­sured be­tween the same dates over those two years, it can­not be com­pared with the in­ter­ven­ing years be­cause the trans­port depart­ment’s data-gath­er­ing dates changed.

RTMC spokesper­son Si­mon Zwane said the coun­try’s traf­fic au­thor­i­ties were win­ning the war on road deaths.

“The as­ser­tion that road car­nage is ever in­creas­ing is not sup­ported by the facts. From the facts as pre­sented, it is clear that there is a no­tice­able de­cline from 2010 to 2014,” said Zwane.

He added that the sta­tis­tics were ver­i­fied with other agen­cies, par­tic­u­larly the SA Po­lice Ser­vice and provin­cial traf­fic of­fi­cials, to en­sure that they were re­li­able.

Zwane did not com­ment on the num­bers for this fes­tive pe­riod, but based on the depart­ment of trans­port’s an­nounce­ments be­tween De­cem­ber 1 and 21, at least 725 peo­ple have been killed in ac­ci­dents so far this sea­son. Last year, 668 peo­ple were killed dur­ing the same pe­riod. “This year’s stats will be re­leased at the end of the fes­tive sea­son in Jan­uary, af­ter a process of ver­i­fi­ca­tion and val­i­da­tion,” said Zwane.

On Fri­day, ER24 was called to a scene where a bus had col­lided with a BMW on the Golden High­way in the south of Johannesburg. One per­son died and four peo­ple were left in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion, in­clud­ing a six-year-old. On the same day, a seven-year-old boy was knocked over and killed by a car in Vereenig­ing.

Yes­ter­day, 24 peo­ple were in­jured when a bus over­turned on the N6 out­side Bloem­fontein. A woman sus­tained crit­i­cal in­juries, six peo­ple were se­ri­ously in­jured and 17 es­caped with mi­nor in­juries.

The coun­try’s worst road

It is only 160km long, but Moloto Road, which runs north of Pre­to­ria and passes through three prov­inces, is one of the coun­try’s most dan­ger­ous stretches, hav­ing claimed 70 lives in the past two years, ac­cord­ing to trans­port depart­ment spokesper­son Sam Monareng.

In Fe­bru­ary, gov­ern­ment set aside more than R1 bil­lion to up­grade the no­to­ri­ous road.

Less than a month af­ter the up­grade an­nounce­ment, a six-year-old child was killed and seven oth­ers were in­jured in a mul­ti­ple ve­hi­cle pile-up in­volv­ing a Putco bus‚ a minibus taxi and sev­eral other ve­hi­cles near KwaMh­langa, Mpumalanga. In June, a 26-year-old man died on the road af­ter a col­li­sion with a truck. Two months later, three peo­ple were killed when a sedan hit the back of a Putco bus on the no­to­ri­ous R573 in Mpumalanga. Moloto has been dubbed the Road of Death.

In 2014, six peo­ple were killed and one per­son was se­ri­ously in­jured in an accident near Kameeldrift.

In 2013, the most hor­rific accident on the road was recorded, in which 29 peo­ple died and 30 were in­jured af­ter a truck drove into the back of a tip­per truck be­fore col­lid­ing with a bus and a light de­liv­ery ve­hi­cle. The smash took place near Kwag­ga­fontein, about 100km east of Pre­to­ria.

In 2012, 10 peo­ple trav­el­ling from a church ser­vice died on the road near the Kwag­ga­fontein Plaza, in­clud­ing three mem­bers of the same fam­ily: a fa­ther who was be­hind the wheel, his wife and their son.

In 2011, a fam­ily of four died af­ter the car they were trav­el­ling in was hit by a bus out­side Pre­to­ria, leav­ing 30 bus pas­sen­gers in­jured.

PHOTO: GALLO IM­AGES / BEELD / ALET PRE­TO­RIUS

CAR­NAGE The scene of a col­li­sion in Emalahleni on June 29. Based on depart­ment of trans­port fig­ures, 725 peo­ple were killed in ac­ci­dents be­tween De­cem­ber 1 and 21

Source: Depart­ment of trans­port Graph­ics24

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