Address at the media launch of the first aid programme for taxi drivers by Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP, Minister of Transport, Johannesburg
28 May 2012
Programme Director, Mr Thabo Matime;
Netcare 911 Managing Director: Tumi Nkosi;
All Netcare 911 Executives Present;
SANTACO Secretary-General, Mr Phillip Taaibosch;
Reverend Vundla, Project Manager, Road Safety;
Members of the media;
I am privileged and honoured to address you, as we mark the launch of one of the most important programmes aimed at saving lives, the first aid programme for taxi drivers. Road crashes, involving taxis and buses, are increasingly adding to the high number of fatalities, the more than 14 000 deaths we witness each year. Taxis transport more than 65% of our public transport users, and they must be fully equipped with tools to save lives during crashes.
In May 2011, we joined the world and launched the United Nations (UN) Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, committing us to a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. Today, as Netcare 911 joins the Friends of the Decade of Action for Road Safety, the involvement of the private sector in reducing traffic crashes, and saving lives, is critical.
By all means, the death of approximately 1.3 million people every year on the world’s roads qualifies to be described as an epidemic. The death of more than 14 000 people per year in our country, the death of at least 1 000 people every month and the death of 40 people every day remains a cause for concern. We need to stand up together, with the private sector, the education and justice fraternity, the religious sector, civil society and everyone, to firmly declare that road deaths can be stopped and prevented. If we commit ourselves whole-heartedly, I am confident that we will win this war against road carnage.
With the figures I have just mentioned, it is clear that, globally, road deaths have reached abnormal levels of which world economies and their education, social development and health budgets are being affected. Every day, road carnage continues to rob the young, the old, the poor, the skilled and professionals of this world. You would agree with me that road crashes have become the fastest, most dangerous and instant killer. The UN has observed this trend, and made an urgent call for countries to adopt quick and implementable resolutions to reverse this.
Partnerships against roads deaths
In South Africa, as we join hands with Netcare 911 today, we have taken an approach that calls on private sector organizations and government to partner so that we can work jointly to end this scourge. At a global level, a forum known as “Friends of the Decade of Action for Road Safety” has been established.
You can tell from the name that this denotes a crucial challenge, which requires a global approach and intervention on road safety.
Road Safety Intervention Programmes
Of the 40 people who die on South Africa (SA) roads daily, most of them could be saved if road rules were simply adhered to. The UN Road Safety Collaboration has identified five pillars, as part of the Decade of Action Plan.
- road safety management;
- safer road infrastructure;
- safer vehicle design;
- safer road users; and
- post-crash care.
We are here today with taxi drivers and officials from the taxi industry because they are responsible for transporting more than 65% of all public transport users in South Africa. A number of lives can be saved if all drivers generally, and taxi drivers in particular, are better trained. In this regard, South African National Taxi Association Congress (SANTACO) is implementing various programmes. Last year, in partnership with SANTACO, we launched the public transport academy in Welkom to train our drivers better to ensure customer excellence and reduce road crashes.
This first aid training programme, being officially launched today, forms part of an extensive training programme in partnership with government, SANTACO, Netcare 911 and the private sector. In most road crashes, the person who tends to survive is the driver. He or she may be injured, but still may be able to move and assist others. What can he or she do? This is where first aid comes in, and this is what we are about today.
First Aid Kits for Taxi Drivers
In the Free State recently, two crashes involving mini-bus taxis resulted in the death of 49 people. One of these taxis was grossly over-loaded. The first few seconds and minutes after a crash are extremely critical. If the driver is not seriously injured, he can help those who are injured, reduce further injury and save lives. In the event of another taxi passing the scene of the crash, that driver can also stop and assist meaning more help is at hand if drivers are trained in first aid. What I am emphasising here is that after this launch today, our intention is that all public transport drivers are trained in first aid.
As we engage with the leadership of the taxi industry, these training programmes seek to address critical needs. Through their 2020 strategy, as well as Operation Hlokomela, SANTACO has demonstrated leadership and their commitment towards excellence in the taxi industry. In this light, First Aid is part of Hlokomela. It is about saving lives on the road. It is part of the fifth pillar of the Decade of Action for Road Safety. We are equipping our drivers to be an important part of post-crash care.
Our partnership with Netcare911 is actually based on this 5th pillar of the Decade, least we be accused of over-emphasizing death. Our relationship is about saving lives, and reducing injuries. The number of our people who are injured, and maimed, cost the economy billions of rands, not to mention the grief and suffering experienced by the families and relatives. We appreciate the role played by Netcare911 in this partnership.
Today Netcare 911 has joined our battle plan, to reduce road fatalities by educating and training taxi drivers to use first aid kits. As the highest numbers of our people are transported in mini-bus taxis, accidents often happen and, in most cases, our taxis and buses are not equipped with first aid kits to urgently assist those critically injured while ambulances are on their way to transport them to the nearest hospitals.
In South Africa, the time is now for the Friends of the Decade of Action to be more visible - a group of individuals and companies who will be a trend setter in Road Safety matters, towards stabilizing and reversing road crashes. So far, companies who have joined as Friends of the Decade of Action for Road Safety include:
- Imperial truck hire through their i-pledge campaign;
- EQSTRA fleet management and logistics think pedestrian campaign;
- Netcare911 first aid campaign; as well as
- Pick & Pay stay alert.
Imperial is a major road user in southern Africa, with its sheer size and geographic footprint putting the group in a great position to make a difference. Imperial employs some 40,000 people – who are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters – and this is why the safety of all road users is of paramount importance. There is a strong human behavioural component to our use of the roads. Thus, how Imperial employees treat other road users is as much a part of being a responsible road user as driving safely and following the rules of the road. Imperial has also engaged with numerous stakeholders in the road, transport and safety arenas.
The EQSTRA think pedestrian campaign was launched in April this year. Despite our efforts, as government, to curb road traffic fatalities, South Africa has witnessed road deaths increasing faster than the vehicle population over the past years. The pedestrian category alone accounts for nearly 40% of road fatalities annually, which can be prevented. The Think Pedestrian campaign is aimed at stabilising and then reducing the statistics, through generating intensive awareness and education programmes to drivers and pedestrians.
This pedestrian programme is being rolled out in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape in support of Nelson Mandela Day. Ladies and Gentlemen, 95% of accidents on South Africa’s roads, and related fleet costs, are due to driver behaviour. EQSTRA has made a rallying call and developed, and is implementing, an extensive driver management programme. This programme is proven to reduce fuel consumption, maintenance and accidents.
The Pick & Pay-Stay alert campaign is aimed at keeping road users - drivers and pedestrians - aware of the dangers associated with using our roads. It keeps them at the forefront of preventative measures that may cause accidents.
Decade of action goals and objectives
Through the Decade of Action, we aim to stabilize and reduce the forecast level of road traffic fatalities around the world by 2020.
They will be achieved through:
- setting a target for reduction of road fatalities by 2020, by building on the existing frameworks of regional causality targets;
- developing and implementing sustainable road safety strategies and programmes;
- strengthening the management of infrastructure and capacity for technical implementation of road safety activities at the national, regional and global levels;
- improving the quality of data collection at the national, regional and global levels;
- monitoring progress and performance on a number of pre-defined indicators at the national, regional and global levels and
- encouraging increased funding to road safety and better use of existing resources, including through ensuring a road safety competent within road infrastructure projects.
Programme Director, let me stress that the private sector in partnership with government can go a very long way, and make a real difference, with regard to achieving our targeted objectives of reducing road deaths by half by 2020. The battle against road fatalities cannot be confined to government alone, it’s a task that we must all face and convince the majority of our people that if we unite, with the same strategic objectives, we will able to yield the best results in saving lives.
Road safety is everybody’s responsibility.
Issued by: Department of Transport
28 May 2012
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