Address at the launch of the 2009 Transport Month by Sibusiso Ndebele

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Johannesburg - Park Station

Programme Director
Minister of Police Mr Nathi Mthethwa
Deputy Minister of Transport Mr Jeremy Cronin
KwaZulu-Natal Transport MEC Mr Willies Mchunu
Gauteng Transport MEC Mr Bheki Nkosi
Transport and Safety MECs
Member of Mayoral Committee Ms Rehana Moosajee
Members of the Mayoral Committee
HoDs and CEOs of Transport Entities
Distinguished Guests
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen


In July 2009 Transport Ministers from Africa concluded a conference on road safety in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania by calling for a "Decade of Action for Road Safety" on the continent. This conference said Africa had the most dangerous roads in the world! Africa had only avoided a catastrophic explosion of road deaths because of relatively low motorisation and an undeveloped road network.

In addition Conference agreed that:

Africa's road deaths of over 200,000 annually will rise by 80% by 2020;
By 2015 road crashes will be the number one killer of children aged 5-14 in Africa, outstripping Malaria and HIV/AIDS;

As representatives of South Africa we told conference that: "Africa has faced many challenges which cannot be confronted by one country alone. The epidemic of road deaths is no different. South Africa pledges support for a Decade of Action - millions of lives depend on it".


The first Global United Nations Ministerial Conference on Road Safety is scheduled to take place in Moscow from 19 - 20 November this year. Ahead of that world conference we know that 3400 men, women and children are killed every single day on the world's roads while walking, cycling or driving. This totals 1.3million people per year around the world who die as a result of road crashes. To give the issue global attention the UN has declared the third Sunday of November as World Remembrance Day for victims of road accidents. On 26 October 2005, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 60/5 committing to improving global road safety.

This global movement for safety on our roads means that there is no place for anyone who thinks they can break traffic laws in another country or continent and get away with it. The world wants to make our roads safer, Africa wants to make our roads safer; South Africa wants to make our road safer.


South Africa is a mixture of development and under-development. On one hand there are well-designed motorways running between major cities and tourist attractions.

On the other hand it takes a mere hour to land back in the 17th century where horses, donkey carts and wheelbarrows are predominant modes of transport. We have over 7 million licensed drivers and over 8million registered vehicles in South Africa. Motorised vehicles make up 89.3% of the total vehicle population and the number increases by 6% annually.
The primary contributory factors in fatal crashes or serious injuries include excessive speed, drinking and driving and the non-wearing of seatbelts. Motorcars, light delivery vehicles and minibuses are the top three vehicle types to be involved in a crash. Pedestrians account for 50% of road crash fatalities in South Africa. Our road safety programme is spearheaded by our agency the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) as more than 16 000 people are killed yearly in road crashes.

This costs the country more than R14bn annually. Through the Road Safety and the Arrive Alive Campaign we see the benefits of visible policing and tight law enforcement. Road safety is a necessary condition for us to move from our developing status to being developed because dead people do not enjoy the benefits of development.

Enforcement alone is not enough. Our Integrated Public Transport Networks should be planned to reduce travelling time and increase safety. The Bus Rapid Transit system represents one great leap that combines safety and affordability of public transport. We have no doubt that as we provide more of these convenient forms of public transport nationally we will have fewer cars on our roads and thus fewer accidents.


From12-16 October 2009, African Union (AU) Ministers of Transport responsible for Maritime will gather in Durban to be part of a conference under the theme "Creating a Safe, Secure and Clean Maritime Transport Industry in Africa".

Durban was chosen as a venue at the AU conference held in Abuja Nigeria in 2007. This was the First Conference of Ministers of Maritime Transport in Africa. Later in April 2008 the AU convened a conference of Ministers of Transport including all modes in Algiers, Algeria. That gathering among others reviewed the continental maritime transport Plan of Action.

Since then the AU Commission has drafted a declaration on maritime safety and security to address piracy as an issue. Working with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) we are improving the safety of our vessels, tightening security and navigation systems including search and rescue facilities.

However there is a worrying resurgence of piracy, human trafficking and dumping of toxic waste on our coastal waters as well as illegal fishing. Piracy activity is rising off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Guinea and these require our urgent attention. The Durban conference will adopt a Plan of Action to address maritime safety and security. This conference will make African waters and shorelines safer and more secure.


We continue treating safety in passenger rail, and will continue to improve visible policing within the rail environments and in trains. Our co-operation with the South African Police Service has seen the roll out of the Railway Police. To date there are twenty-nine (29) facilities in four Provinces (Gauteng, Eastern Cape, KZN and Western Cape). Out of these twenty-three (23) are to be completed by the end of this month.

On the roads the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) we will continue with tight law enforcement against traffic offenders.

We are committed to the implementation of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) throughout the country in 2010.

AARTO seeks to effect an efficient road traffic management environment in the country and enhance a culture of compliance through a demerit system.

A special unit located in the national office will be available to assist provinces and municipalities where necessary with law enforcement. I will meet traffic officers soon to discuss these issues in my capacity as Minister but also as a fellow traffic officer, a qualification I obtained while MEC in KZN!

As we issue a new card licence for drivers we will make sure it is tamper proof and cannot be forged.
Also in order to increase the driving skills base in the country learners will be taught how to drive while still at school and tertiary institution - this initiative will easily put 1million properly licenced drivers on our roads annually.

Through the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) we will ensure rail incidents are minimized.
Through the Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS) and the SA Civil Aviation Authority we will ensure that potential aviation incidences are minimized.


This rapid rail link ranks alongside the most modern systems in the world in countries such as the United Arab Emirates and in Europe. Once complete, this project will link Tshwane, Sandton and OR Tambo International Airport. It will provide much-needed relief for Gauteng passengers in this key economic hub.

Gautrain will improve our road safety immensely as it attracts more car users to public transport. With initiatives by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), these will make rail the backbone of our public transport system for 2010 and beyond and thus reduce accidents. Gautrain's draw-card will be its speed, safety and convenience.

A visitor in August 2010 could land at ORTIA from Sao Paolo, jump into the GAUTRAIN to the city of Johannesburg, take the Rea Vaya BRT to Soweto to have breakfast and take a taxi to his Sandton hotel. The tourist could then take the GAUTRAIN from Sandton to Tshwane where they could have lunch. All this could be done through one ticket purchased at ORTI Airport using an integrated system.


Our plans must re-order apartheid spatial plans and as we extend rail services, quality and safety must keep improving. During Transport Month we will also focus on the creation of decent work, fighting driving licence fraud and corruption and tightening our own coordination, planning, monitoring and evaluation.

Together let us ensure this country moves from being a developing country to being a developed country.

Sisonke! Asiphephe! Akujiki! I Thank You!