The South African Federation of Trade Unions is appalled and angry at the continuing carnage on the country’s roads.
In two horrific accidents yesterday and this morning 20 people died and over 60 were injured, and the death toll may still rise.
In Mpumalanga this morning, 4 July 2017, 14 people were killed and 16 injured when a bus and a truck collided on the Badplaas Road outside Machadodorp.
In the Free State 24 hours earlier on Monday morning 6 people died and 50 others were injured after their bus crashed into a stationary truck along the N8, about 15 km outside of Bloemfontein.
SAFTU sends its condolences to the families and friends of the deceased and best wishes to the injured for a speedy and full recovery.
Both accidents involved bus passengers, as do most of the worst accidents, and the main victims are workers and learners from poor communities who have no other means of getting to work or school and have to risk their lives every day traveling on unsafe buses or taxis driven on dangerous pot-holed roads.
The high number of accidents like these, and the appalling number of deaths and injuries, must be treated as a national emergency. 45 people perish every single day in our country’s roads. It is an emergency which must be addressed without any delay.
The problem is that our Arrive Alive campaigns target Christmas and Easter Weekend breaks. In between there is no visible and aggressive campaign. Just as with violent crimes, South Africa is facing a crisis of reckless driving and this requires more than a festive season campaign.
SAFTU calls for a comprehensive response centered on a sustained daily campaign. All public transport vehicles must be urgently inspected to ensure they comply with the law. More traffic officials must be deployed on roads to prevent speeding and dangerous driving.
Corruption too is a key factor. How could it not be when the country’s president himself is a refugee from 783 corruption, money laundering, fraud and racketeering charges? Some traffic centers and even traffic police do take bribes to allow roads unworthy cars on roads.
We also have to change the culture of drivers. SAFTU will politicise and educate members to know how critical their jobs are to public safety on our roads. Drivers, traffic officials and workers in hospitals and schools must be geared to serve the working class which cannot opt out of the system by using private services.
The transport trade unions must fight for bus, taxi and lorry drivers to be paid a living wage and work shorter hours, so that they are free from pressure to maximize the number of journeys and cut corners on safety in order to make a living.
We must unite to demand and insist that this carnage on our roads must stop and safe, affordable transport provided for all!