The Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) was in full support of the announcement that the government will be announcing a new strategy to look at road maintenance across the country and to build access roads into rural areas.
This follows a 2009 report put forward by the AA on road conditions and funding which estimated the backlog of road maintenance to be in the region of 100 billion rand.
“ We are pleased that Treasury has recognised the need for improved infrastructure and may be releasing funds dedicated to road maintenance in the upcoming budget, which would be a welcome relief,” says the AA.
The minister also announced the refurbishment of the N2 without implementing an expensive tolling system. “This reinforces our view that money can be found for maintenance on our roads without fleecing the motorist,” says the AA.
Also notable was the announcement that the DOT and RTMC will be introducing a specialised law enforcement unit on a national basis. There are currently 250 traffic officers in training who look to be out on patrol by April 2011 with national jurisdiction.
Previously, there has been no dedicated law enforcement component with traffic laws being enforced by other agencies such as SAP, metro police and municipal agencies, often pushing traffic safety to the bottom of the priority list.
Training for new drivers caught the AA’s attention, with the minister announcing that he hopes to see a million new drivers come out of the school system every year. While this will help combat the practise of corrupt and fake licensing, our current driver licensing capacity is limited at best and we would need to significantly improve testing capacity at driver learner centres to see this goal achieved.
The current festive season preliminary death toll was announced as 1551, a figure that is indicative that more needs to be done to save lives on our roads. Ignoring the emotive cost, the 1221 fatal crashes reported thus far represents a cost of more than R 1.5 billion to the economy.
In line with the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety which aims to halve road deaths by 2020, the minister announced that South Africa hopes to do the same by 2015.
“We’re on the right track, with the policing and enforcement on our roads this festive season making a difference. To make this ultimately effective, we need more public communication and education to ensure that we create higher awareness and change current suicidal behaviour on our roads,” concludes the AA.
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1126