SPEECH BY GAUTENG MEC FOR ROADS AND TRANSPORT ON THE LAUNCH OF THE OCTOBER TRANSPORT MONTH AT PARK STATION (JOHANNESBURG) ON 4 OCTOBER 2011
May I recognise our special guests on this memorable day. I am mentioning them by name because I value their partnership and support for the October Transport Month campaign.
Mr Vuyani Jarana (COO of Vodacom)
Mr Len Moulp (MD of 3M)
Mr Murray Price (MD of Eqstra Fleet Management)
Mr Collins Letsoalo (Acting CEO of RTMC)
Mr Gary Ronald (General Manager – AA)
Mr Sy Maphalla (Deputy Chairperson – South African National Civic Organisation: Gauteng)
Mr Phillip Taaibosch (General Secretary of SANTACO)
Mr Dumisani Dakile (Gauteng Provincial Secretary – COSATU)
All Members of the Mayoral Committee for Transport
Departmental Officials (National and Provincial)
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
Today, the Department of Roads and Transport launches the October Transport Month campaign in Gauteng. The theme for this year’s campaign is Towards an Integrated, Safe Public Transport that Reduces Road Fatalities. The theme is derived from the declaration by the United Nations of a Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020), whose objective is to reduce road fatalities throughout the world.
The two principal messages in our campaign are: firstly, to promote road safety; and secondly, to promote the use of public transport as a mode of choice in Gauteng. Our programmes and activities are, therefore, designed to engage our people on issues of road safety, public transport and infrastructure development during this month. It is a mass-based campaign aimed directly at the vast majority of residents in this province. We’re also targeting young adults. Hopefully, this will promote some behavioural change in this category of people, so that succeeding generations can grow up in a different way; in a safer way.
In terms of the road safety component of the campaign our slogans are simple and straight forward. Road crashes and accidents happen because of the simple mistakes we make in life – texting and speaking on a cell phone while driving; jaywalking; falling asleep on the steering wheel due to fatigue; acquiring a fraudulent license; excessive speeding; and, being drunk either as pedestrian or as a motorist. Call it the six deadly sins if you like, but we must confront the harsh reality that these behavioural patterns are harmful to our country and its people. Hence, our posters and billboards say:
- It started with 1 sms;
- It started with jaywalking;
- It started with falling asleep;
- It started with a fake license;
- It started with a need for speed; and
- It started with 1 drink.
For some there might be nothing new in our message. But it’s ignoring these simple messages that results in road fatalities and injuries.
Only this weekend, we heard of the tragedy in Harrismith, where a bus collided with a truck. Three learners and six teachers from Phomola Primary School in Spruitview were killed in a horrific crash. Another 48 people were injured. Here are a few other examples of road accidents – all from yesterday’s newspapers:
- “A man was killed on Friday in Meyerton when he was struck by a truck on the R59 Sybrand van Niekerk freeway”;
- “In the East Rand a woman was killed and another was seriously injured when the driver lost control of the minibus they were travelling in and crashed on Thema Road near Kwa Thema”.
- “Nine killed and more than 60 injured in road accidents across South Africa over weekend”; and
- “On Friday, an 18 year old boy died in a side impact accident in the Fulweni area, Limpopo, while driving to a matric dance with three other pupils”.
Daily there are stories similar to these that appear in our media. We read them. We do not give them a second thought. They do not stir our conscience or our sense of responsibility on the roads; and life carries on as if nothing has happened. The Minister of Transport or some other public official will express condolences and offer comfort to the families of the deceased. And that’s it.
Today, I do express on behalf of all of us present my deepest condolences to the families of this weekend’s crash. I do so sincerely. But deep down I know that’s not enough. We have to do more, much more to make our roads safer for all. I realise that some people wilfully ignore a politician when he/she speaks. That’s why I’ve got Mr Zula, our mascot for this campaign. The Zula safely campaign will be taken to institutions of higher learning; various intermodal transport facilities, including taxi ranks; and schools. You will see it on billboards, on taxis and busses; at the airport; and hear about it on radio and TV. The idea is that road safety must become everyone’s business.
Even as we desire to change public consciousness on this issue, we recognise that the greater use of public transport also contributes to a safer and cleaner environment. The Gauteng Provincial Government, together with our municipalities, is investing heavily in public transport infrastructure in its quest to improve the state of public transportation. The Gautrain serves as a benchmark for the promotion of public transport between Pretoria and Johannesburg. The phenomenal ridership has demonstrated the public’s willingness to use public transport.
The Department will continue to focus on composite transport offerings in the province, encouraging and promoting the use of the Gautrain, the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit systems in Johannesburg, the planned BRT systems in Tshwane and Ekurhuleni, Metrorail and minibus taxis, with the proviso that passenger safety and customer care become core features of the taxi, bus and rail industry. It is apparent that the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system has changed the face of spatial orientation in the City of Johannesburg, linking parts of the city never connected before. It now transports 40 000 passengers a day on the main trunk routes between Soweto and the city. I am confident that the features of an integrated public transport system are gradually and systematically taking shape in Gauteng; and we will see the impact of this over the next three years.
In rolling out the campaign, the Department of Roads and Transport has teamed up with the Gauteng Department of Community Safety in conducting roadblocks throughout the province with law-enforcement as an objective. We aim to stop 250 000 vehicles every month in Gauteng and this campaign will extend over the entire festive season. We call on the public to co-operate with the traffic and law enforcement agencies. We will be focusing on drunken drivers; we will insist that all passengers – in the front and the back seats – wear seatbelts; we will be checking on the roadworthiness of vehicles; and we will be looking out for fraudulent licenses.
Finally, we encourage all motorists to make the use of some form of public transport services on the 20th October, which is Car Free Day.
For further information, contact Octavia Mamobolo on 0823168666.