Change of attitude needed to reduce road carnage - Zuma

Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Nthambeleni Gabara

Mankweng - The high rate of fatal crashes on South Africa’s roads is abnormal, says President Jacob Zuma.

“We’ve had some horrific collisions in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, which claimed dozens of lives. The situation is abnormal. We need a radical change of attitude and a commitment to working on reducing road carnage.

“I urge all South Africans to obey the rules of the road without exception, at all times. Do not drive under the influence of alcohol and respect fellow road users,” he said.

At least 14 000 people die on the country’s roads every year, and 46 percent of these are pedestrians, costing the economy R306 billion every year.

The President was addressing the local community following the unveiling of the R81 road near Mankweng, outside Polokwane, earlier on Tuesday. The road connects Polokwane and Giyani, and is expected to boost economic activity in the area.

The event is one of the activities planned for Transport Month and forms part of government’s programme of rolling out infrastructure projects.

Investing in road infrastructure

According to the President, government invested R245 million in the construction of the R81 road, which will make it easier to move people and goods between Polokwane and Giyani.

Construction on the 61.5-km road project, which created 455 jobs, started in September 2010 and was completed in July this year.

Zuma was also pleased at the massive progress in the construction of the R71 road between Polokwane and Tzaneen.

“A broader road will be more passable and will lessen accidents, especially as we know that this road is used by a lot of the members of the Zion Christian Church in their pilgrimages to the church,” he said.

The R71 leads to the Kruger National Park via Phalaborwa gate, and it will therefore allow easier travel to tourist destinations in the province.

The President said government had prioritised the development of infrastructure to boost the economy and inclusive growth, create jobs and further improve the living and working conditions of South Africans.

“We want to create infrastructure that makes life easy everywhere, not just in the big cities. That is why we’ve upgraded roads here in Limpopo and in other parts of the country.

“Our efforts to make transport the heartbeat of the economy continue in both rural and urban areas. We take infrastructure so seriously that it is coordinated in the Presidency, through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordination Commission (PICC),” he said.

Zuma said although the infrastructure plan was expensive, it was necessary because it would change the economy and the social landscape.

South Africa spends about R10 billion to service and re-tar roads each year. To build one kilometre of new tarred road can cost about R25 million.

October Month is Transport and government has dedicated the month to promote all matters related to transport - from infrastructure to road safety. -