New Transport appointment: more questions than answers

Last night’s Cabinet reshuffle has left more questions than answers for motorists, who, among other things, are today, left wondering why the former Minister of Transport, Dipou Peters, was replaced, the Automobile Association (AA) said.

President Jacob Zuma made a number of significant changes to his Cabinet late last night including replacing Ms Peters with Mr Joe Maswanganyi, who currently serves on the Parliamentary Portofolio Committee on Transport.

Our first reaction is to ask why Ms Peters has been replaced. While there remain notable challenges in the Department of Transport, the former Minister was making progress, especially in relation to interacting with transport and road safety NGOs, including the AA, to reduce the alarmingly high road death toll. Replacing her, without explanation, raises a red flag.

It was unfortunate for the new Minister that his appointment was made in this way.

Mr Maswanganyi’s appointment is, regrettably, tainted by the fact it was made along with so many other new appointments, which have clearly been politically motivated, rather than in the interests of the portfolios of the departments, they now lead. While, in the interests of an improved transport infrastructure in South Africa, we wish Mr Maswanganyi well in this important position, we remain unconvinced and unclear on the reasons for the move.

Apart from this, the AA said changing political leadership at the Department of Transport now may lead to a loss of momentum in moving road safety higher on the national agenda.

It said going forward it is critical that the new Minister is aware of, and takes seriously, the many challenges facing his department. Among these is the proper roll-out of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO), moves to decrease the worryingly high death rate on South Africa’s roads, improved road safety in general, an improvement in the quality of road statistics in the country, and a wholesale improvement of traffic law enforcement.

There are many critical problems on our roads that need immediate attention, without which our current situation will continue unchecked, or worse, decline even further. This cannot be allowed, and Mr Maswanganyi must act swiftly and decisively to prevent such.