The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) mourns the passing of 8 people who died in a car crash on the N1 in Limpopo. This crash follows another one just 5 days ago, where 18 workers who were being transported to De Beers Mine in Musina were killed, with others sustaining serious injuries.
The car crashes on the roads have become a matter of concern, as road accidents happen regularly, taking lives of workers and children. In 2022, 12 436 people died on the roads, representing a minor decline from the 12 541 people who died on the roads in 2021. These deaths involve pedestrian deaths of people who are hit by cars. However, car crashes account for the overwhelming majority of these accidents. Media outlets reported last year that “there are more than 800 000 road accidents in South Africa every year, translating to roughly 2 200 crashes on our country’s roads daily.” This paints a grim picture.
It is sad and unacceptable that we lose members of the working class on the roads at this rate. This high number of road accidents could be attributed to negligent driving, caused by amongst others drunk driving, fatigue, etc. However, the other contributing factor is the destruction of the alternative passenger transport such as passenger railway. This has led to the proliferation of privately owned cars as people look for convenient mode of transport for short and long-distance trips. To illustrate this, the International Transport Forum said in 2019 that traffic deaths increased by 18% between 2000 and 2018.
In order for the country to curb car accidents, the government has to fix rail transport for short and long-distance trips. Long distance trips will need to not only refurbishment, but mass roll-out of new rail infrastructure connecting main cities between provinces, and main towns and cities within provinces.
SAFTU extends condolences to families of the families who lost their loved ones in these car crashes, and other road accidents that took place since the beginning of the year. In our end-year statement, we wished the working people safe travels and warned of negligent driving that leads to death and injuries. Every limp that is displaced, skull that is fractured and life that is lost is a greatest loss to us and must be mourned and bemoaned if it was avoidable.