Address at the Limpopo Provincial launch of the 2012 Transport Month Campaign by Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, MP, Deputy Minister of Transport
5 Oct 2012
Honourable MEC of Roads and Transport Mr Pitsi Moloto
Honourable Members of the Provincial Legislature present here
The Executive Mayor of the Capricorn District Municipality Mr Makgabo Mapoulo
The Executive Mayor of the Polokwane Municipality Mr Freddie Greaver
Members of Mayoral Committees
The Head of Department of the Department of Roads and Transport Mr Ntau Letebele
The leadership of Roads Agency Limpopo
Members of the Media
Ladies and gentlemen
I’m honoured to be part of this critical event marking the official start of Transport Month for the provincial government of Limpopo and the Department of Roads and Transport in particular.
This follows the national launch of Transport Month that took place in Soweto four days ago attended by thousands of people coming from various sections of the historic township.
Transport Month affords us an opportunity to take stock of the achievements we have made in the provision of a safe and reliable transport system to the people of South Africa.
It is also a time for us to reflect on the challenges ahead. There’s no doubt that Transport is the backbone of the country’s economy.
We are responsible for a sector that oversees the movement of goods and people. Without transport the economy would grind to a halt. This reality is currently manifesting itself in the form of truck drivers’ strike wherein several fuel pumps are running dry and ATMs cannot be replenished. This affects the movement of goods and people.
Our role in society has been defined for us. We therefore have a responsibility to ensure that we put in place the best infrastructure that would ensure that our economy is forever lubricated so far as transport is concerned.
In our day to day work as practitioners in this space, we should endeavour to ensure that we provide a safe and reliable transport system. That’s the bare minimum standard we have to meet.
The provision of a safe and reliable transport system would speak to ensuring that our country’s road networks are of acceptable standards and support the safe movement of goods and people.
I’m aware that the South African National Roads Agency Limited, SANRAL, is doing some work in this province. This includes the rehabilitation and expansion of the road network on the R81 between Polokwane and Munich and from Munich to Giyani, covering a total distance of 138 kilometres. And then there’s the R71 between Polokwane to Tzaneen and the R37 that connects Polokwane with Nelspruit via Burgersfort and Lydenburg. In all these projects we have invested no less than half a billion rand. SANRAL will in the near future invest a further 300 million rand in the construction of a bypass around Mathoks in the Botlokwa area.
If you look at all these afore-mentioned projects, you will realise they all seek to connect the economic capital of the province, Polokwane with all the regions in the province and with other key cities in neighbouring provinces such as Nelspruit in Mpumalanga. Now this is what we call building a nation!
Through the Provincial Road Maintenance Grant otherwise known as S’hamba Sonke, national government has set aside billions of rand to ensure the rehabilitation of our roads.
This is a national infrastructure development and maintenance initiative aimed at addressing the concern of the on-going deterioration of South Africa’s provincial road network. This programme has created new opportunities for emerging contractors. During the 2011/12 financial year, 68 675 jobs were be created through the programme. In addition this ring-fenced conditional grant is being implemented with a focus on the following key areas:
- Fixing potholes on our roads
- Creating access to schools and clinics and other essential services and public facilities
- The rehabilitation of key arterial routes that support the rural economy through labour intensive projects
- Prioritising the use of labour absorptive systems, including a " know your network programme"
Programme Director, MEC, Executive mayors, ladies and gentlemen
The role of and need for a good road network can never be overemphasised. We need to look at roads as a catalyst for economic development because indeed without roads the seamless movement of people is hindered.
From Shayandima in Vhembe to Lenyenye in Mopani, our people require roads to ensure that the nation’s rural development objectives are met.
The Agriculture sector in this province requires a good road network to thrive so that in turn it can continue employing our people and therefore assist us in our fight against poverty and other related social ills.
The mining activities in this province also need to be supported by a good and reliable road network. The major infrastructure projects being carried out in the Lephalale area where the new power station is being built require a good road network to succeed. Roads are a catalyst for economic development.
We must look at our role beyond the construction of roads but the building of a nation. We must ensure therefore that we dare not fail our people in this regard.
We have a long wish list as government that if successfully implemented; we believe we could be closer to delivering a better life for all our people.
However some of our goals are sadly undermined by a lack of commitment and dedication from public servants. As public servants, we should realise that we carry the hopes of the 49 million citizens of our country. When all fails they look up to us to provide a solution. They do not expect no for an answer from us because they firmly believe that a government is voted into office to provide solutions to the country’s challenges. We dare not fail them! From time to time we need to revisit the ethos and values of serving the people so that we do a frank assessment of whether we are still on track or not.
Another obvious issue hindering service delivery is below standard service, fraud and corruption at public service delivery facilities. Within the transport space, this is rife in our Driver Learning Testing Centres and the traffic environment in general.
If we all don’t stand up against the above challenges, we will not get anywhere in our attempts to meet the needs of our people. We must rid our licensing departments of rotten apples who undermine the laws of the republic while in uniform. We must rid our traffic departments of officers who abuse office to enrich themselves. A traffic officer’s daily targets should be to remove dangerous drivers and vehicles from our roads, not to line up their pockets with ill-gotten money.
What some of our officers don’t realise is that when they issue a driver’s license fraudulently, they are giving undue permission to someone who is not ready to drive on our roads and therefore endangering that person’s life and those of other road users.
In other words you unleash a potential murderer onto our roads. The same applies to traffic officials who let un-roadworthy vehicles off the hook, particularly public transport vehicles.
You stop a bus that’s not in a good state carrying 65 people or so. You can see for yourself that this bus shouldn’t be allowed to travel another kilometre on our roads. The driver offers you a bribe and you gladly oblige and let the driver off.
A few kilometres on the same bus is involved in a fatal crash, claiming the lives of a sizeable number of passengers on board and possibly others travelling in other affected vehicles. How would you feel about your actions informed by greed that have now resulted in multiples of lives perishing at a go? How do you live with yourself or sleep at night knowing that had it not been for your greed, lives could have been saved? We need to engage in some serious soul-searching as a nation. This exercise would assist us in realising that we could be the answers the nation is looking for as it seeks to arrest the unacceptable road carnage in South Africa today.
Let us revisit the oath of our respective offices and ensure that we are at all times guided by values and ethos enshrined in the oath.
Programme Director, MEC, Executive mayors, ladies and gentlemen
Road safety is a major concern not only in our country but worldwide. The World Health Organisation estimates that at least 1.3 million people lose their lives on the roads worldwide. This number is forecast to rise to 1.9 million by 2020 if nations of the world do not come up with urgent interventions.
In South Africa alone, we do not count less than 14 000 bodies annually. This is a calamity that must be arrested with haste as it threatens to wipe out communities.
Through the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety, South Africa and other UN member states have committed to reduce by half road fatalities by 2020. The primary objectives of the Decade of Action are to first stabilise and then reduce the rate of road fatalities.
The Decade of Action campaign is premised on the following five key pillars:
Road Safety Management
Safe Roads and Mobility
Safe Road Users and
We believe that if we followed these guidelines, we will be able to drastically bring down the number of road fatalities. We are all in agreement that a road death is not a normal death. We should therefore all play our part to ensure that we prevent one. We have a moral and legal responsibility to save a life. This we could do by doing a very simple thing: Obeying all the rules of the road without exception at all times!
Let us all commit to make the objectives of this campaign a reality. We all share an equal obligation to ensure that our roads are not turned into killing fields.
It was therefore fitting that we decided to elevate road safety during this year’s Transport Month. The idea is that we have a seamless entry into the festive season and the Easter break next year. This would assist us in ensuring that the road safety gospel is spread across throughout the year, moving away from the practice of only being visible during peak traffic seasons.
The answer to our road safety challenges requires an all-year round plan comprising efforts from government, private sector and civil society. Government’s law enforcement efforts should be supported by behavioural change campaigns on the ground. We need to ensure that each and every community has a road safety council that works with that particular community in addressing road safety issues.
MEC, Executive Mayors and other decision makers present here, please set aside a portion out of your budgets to support the work of road safety councils. They need our help so that in turn they can assist us in ensuring that we meet the primary objective of the Decade of Action of halving road fatalities by 2020.
Be part of the Decade of Action for Road Safety. Working together we can save millions of lives!
Issued by: Department of Transport
5 Oct 2012
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