Caught on dashcam: City traffic officer shot on duty

By Donald Grant, WC Minister of Transport and Public Works:

Video is available for viewing here:

I should like to join provincial and local traffic and road safety officials in praising the actions of City of Cape Town Traffic Services officer, Nizaam Alexander, following an attack by a would-be firearm robber on the N2 highway near Borcherd’s Quarry late last year.

The incident occurred on the 17th of November 2015. Traffic Officer Alexander had pulled over a vehicle trying to drive around morning rush hour traffic by using the yellow line emergency lane. Traffic Officer Alexander’s dashcam captured the entire incident, including the chilling moment when the would-be robber’s firearm jams, just prior to the attack in which Traffic Officer Alexander was shot once in the back.

Traffic Officer Alexander, who had just been awarded the City’s Departmental Traffic Officer of the Year Award 2015, responded by rolling away from his attacker. Following his training, he made himself as small a target as possible, drew his firearm and returned fire, before pursuing the suspect on foot. The suspect fled towards informal housing adjacent to the freeway, and was able to escape. Traffic Officer Alexander calmly returned to the scene and finished issuing the summons for driving in the yellow line before seeking medical attention. His bullet proof vest prevented serious injury, and he was back on duty soon after the incident.

Traffic Officer Nizaam Alexander’s conduct in this incident exemplifies the professionalism and dedication to duty of our traffic officers from all services. We commend all our devoted traffic officers who place their lives in danger every day to make our roads safer.

DA sends condolences after horror accident claims 14 lives

By Katlego Suzan Phala (MPL), DA Limpopo Spokesperson on Transport:

The DA is saddened by the news that 14 people were killed, when a double-cab bakkie and a truck collided on the R101 between Mokopane and Naboomspruit in the wee hours of this morning.

It has been reported that the driver of the truck sustained minor injuries after the head-on collision while two people in the bakkie survived and the survivors were all taken to the nearest hospital.

The DA wishes to offer our sincere condolences to the families of the victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time and we wish a speedy recovery to those in hospital.

The DA calls upon MEC Mapula Mokaba Phukwane to prioritise safety on our provincial roads to enhance the safety of all motorists. Passengers travelling in bakkies, without seats or safety belts, risk life and limb, and the department must do more to educate the public on these risks.

The DA believes that Limpopo deserves safe and dependable roads and we need to ensure that road safety measures continue to be visible all the time.

Matlosana traffic department in shambles

By Cllr Maritha Coetzee, DA Matlosana Councillor:

The Democratic Alliance in Matlosana is concerned with the neglect and mismanagement of the traffic department by the city council.

The traffic department can bring in more than R12 million in revenue per month but has been so awfully neglected that it has come down to a mere R1.5 million per month.

Since 2012 the DA has been asking that vacant posts be filled as there have been 58 vacant positions in the traffic department that need to be filled.

The traffic department has lost millions in revenue because it has no system to collect money for outstanding traffic fines.

Furthermore the city owes the provincial government R41 million for license renewals. The city has drafted a letter to the provincial government requesting the debt to be written off, but with no system in place to properly manage this the debt will still pile up.

Because the department has no cashiers to handle traffic fines and license renewals, most of the work is outsourced to the Post Office causing council to lose 20% in commission. The loss amounts to R400 000 per month.

The ineffectiveness of the Council to deliver traffic police to limit traffic violations can lead to loss of life. Speed and moving violations such as solid white line infringements, traffic light disobedience and stop sign violations, risk going unpoliced now.

The DA will write to the MEC for Community Safety and Transport Management Mr Gaoage Molapisi to immediately intervene and to save the department from a complete shutdown.

The DA will request that all vacant posts be filled as soon as possible, to establish a system for traffic debt collection and create a viable audit system that will assist with managing license renewal funds.

The DA ran Western Cape has introduced several technical interventions that makes repayments easier and more efficient. They have an admin mark that ensures that all warrants are paid before motorists renew their licenses.

They have launched Operation Reclaim which vigorously pursues all motorists with outstanding warrants. Another system is the license plate recognition  cameras that helps identify drivers with outstanding warrants on the road. They also use bulk SMS reminders for fines issued, summons and warrants of arrest. Since the introduction of these interventions there has been substantial growth in traffic fine income.

DA NW Leader goes barefoot in solidarity with school children without transport

By Joe McGluwa (MPL), DA North West Leader:

Today, Friday 15 January the Democratic Alliance North West Leader Joe McGluwa took off his shoes and walked 4km in solidarity with school children of Tigane near Hartebeesfontein, to highlight the need for transport to learners.

Whilst members of the North West Provincial Legislature and National Ministers were deployed to monitor the readiness of schools, we chose to walk barefoot with the children to experience the real challenges they face on a daily basis.

Children in Tigane often place their lives in danger in pursuit of education as they have to rely on the kindness of strangers to give them lifts to school. Some teachers even use their private cars to get the children to school.

These children walk on the road without any adult supervision and the bushy area adds to the dangers that leaves them exposed and vulnerable.

Teachers indicated that when learners arrive at school, they are physically exhausted which plays a damning role in their concentration during learning.

With most of them from poor disadvantaged backgrounds these kids cannot afford to have breakfast and have to wait until lunch to get food from the feeding scheme.

Members of the Provincial legislature were sent out to monitor the readiness of schools and failed to identify these problems. Most of the schools have a shortage of teachers, tables and chairs; they do not have basic resources to support the learning process.

We will write to the MEC for Education Me Wendy Matsemela asking her to review their 8km standard distance to allocate transport to schools.

We will further ask MEC Matsemela to immediately appoint teachers where they are shortages and to ensure basic resources at all schools.

Education is an important tool that can help break the cycle of poverty that so many of these kids suffer under.

Where the DA Western Cape governs we ensure that learners living far from school receive transport, and schools are properly monitored to ensure that they have adequate resources to operate.

Gautrain buses failing commuters

By Justus de Goede, DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Transportation:

Commuters who make use the Gautrain bus service have been left stranded at peak hours this week as bus drivers have downed tools, without notice, demanding meal breaks between 17h00 and 18h00.

Passengers have only learnt about these delays when arriving at the stations.

In December 2015, the DA asked the CEO of the Gautrain Management Agency (GMA), Jack van der Merwe, about the reported deficiencies in the bus service. In his reply, he indicated that the service was outsourced and the GMA therefore had no say in its functioning.

Given the integrated nature of Gautrain and the Gautrain bus service, this response is preposterous.

Some years ago, the CSIR had the following to say about the Gautrain bus service:

“The dedicated and auxiliary feeder and distribution services have a very important role to play in attracting users to the Gautrain. Planning, design and implementation of these services are crucial for ensuring sufficient levels of passengers make use of the Gautrain and that people convert to public transport”.

The bus service cannot dismissed as a loose-standing component of the transport system.

The buses should occupy an important part of Gautrain planning and thinking.

As the Gauteng taxpayer is paying for this service, the GMA should see to it that it functions to meet its responsibilities or give the contract to a company that can do so.

The GMA should take an urgent look at this important link in the Provincial public transport system.

Increasing road deaths: DA calls for awareness campaign

By Katlego Suzan Phala (MPL), DA Limpopo Spokesperson on Transport:

The DA is concerned that the number of road fatalities in Limpopo during the festive season increased by 12% up to 208 from 186 in 2014.

The death toll increased despite the department’s acquisition of more than 50 new vehicles late last year to increase visibility.

The MEC for Transport, Mapula Phokwana-Mokaba also indicated that incidents of driving under the influence of alcohol, excessive speeding, roadworthiness of public transport vehicles , pedestrian management and overloading during the festive season will be prioritised and perpetrators will be dealt with severely.

The statistics indicates that the MEC did not deliver and deaths on Limpopo roads continue to be unacceptably high.

The DA extends our heartfelt condolences to the families who lost loved ones and believes that MEC Phokwana-Mokaba must be held accountable for the deaths.

The DA believes that Limpopo deserves safe and dependable roads and we need to ensure that road safety measures continue to be visible throughout the year.

The DA will make the following recommendations and adjustments to the Annual Performance Plan(APP) at the next portfolio committee meeting:

  • To increase the number of traffic officers on our roads
  • To  purchase more vehicles where necessary
  • To provide more training for officers
  • Better awareness campaigns for public
  • To revise the road safety programme and to shorten the response time of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

The DA urges the MEC to implement effective measures that will decrease fatalities on our road prior to the annual pilgrimage to Moria.

Gauteng road death toll: Simple solutions evade government

By Justus de Goede, DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Transportation:

Despite a road safety awareness campaign launched by the Gauteng Legislature’s Roads and Transport Portfolio Committee in the last quarter of 2015, carnage on the provinces roads over the festive season continued unabated.

All that has changed is the upward trend in road fatalities while the hand-wringing continues.

The DA has on numerous occasions highlighted that tough measures will have to be taken against offending road users as there have to be consequences for deliberately and repeatedly placing lives in danger.

Placing road traffic law enforcement under the MEC for Transport, rather than under the Community Safety Department would be a step in the right direction

Following this, law enforcement agencies should revoke licences and impound the vehicles of motorists who demonstrate reckless road behaviour.

The public is fed up with empty conversations and an escalating death toll.

Gauteng has the country’s highest concentration of vehicles and roads. The Provincial Government must implement legislative reforms to ensure the safety of all road users.

If not, it is likely we will be listening to the same litany of excuses in January 2017.

High visibility and tough law enforcement key to curb high road death toll

By Marshall von Buchenroder (MPL), Shadow MEC for Transport:

High visibility and tough law enforcement all year-round, not just seasonal plans, can curb the high road death toll in the Eastern Cape.  Bad practices developed by drivers over the year due to lack of law enforcement become a habit.  The province recorded the highest number of road fatalities in the country during the festive season, an increase of 22 %, from 227 in 2014/15 to 278 in 2015/16.

On behalf of the DA, I want to express my sincere condolences to the families who have suffered devastating losses of loved ones during what should be a time of happiness and joy.

Morale amongst provincial traffic officials is at an all-time low due to the on-going debacle surrounding the two-shift system in terms of Resolution 14 of 2009 as well as outstanding overtime payments dating back to January last year.  Transport MEC Weziwe Tikana and her department have displayed little political will to bring finality to this issue.

The DA believes that the following steps can be taken by the department, which will have a direct effect in improving traffic policing in the province:

  1. The establishment of a 24-hour traffic law enforcement service within the province, instead of a season plan.
  2. The recommendations of MEC Tikana’s task team, that Resolution 14 of 2009 be scrapped, must be implemented immediately.
  3. Outstanding overtime must be paid.
  4. All funded vacancies in the department must be filled as a matter of urgency.
  5. Additional provincial traffic officers should be appointed in according with the organogram of the department.
  6. The monitoring of stray animals should be prioritized as a contributing factor to road accidents in the province.
  7. To create satellite offices in addition to the current stations, to alleviate the long distances officers have to drive in order to do patrolling.

Doing the above will go a long way in lifting the morale in the department and ensuring that the two-shift system is a thing of the past. Road safety is a key contributor to a society where citizens can travel freely and have access to opportunities without fear.

December Holidays marred by spike in Western Cape road deaths

By Donald Grant, Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works:

The first half of this festive season (December 2015) has seen an alarming spike in the number of road deaths in the Western Cape, compared to the figures for the same time last year.

In total, 143 people have lost their lives in our roads over this past December, an 18% increase from the 121 deaths recorded in December 2014.

The most concerning increase has been in the number of passenger deaths (up 40% from 35 in 2014, to 49 in 2015), with a large number of vehicle occupants perishing in some horrific head-on collisions resulting from fatigue, lack of seat belt compliance, and reckless and irresponsible driving.

The highest number of deaths on a single day (11 deaths) were recorded on two Sundays during December, the 13th and the 20th respectively.

December 1 to December 31 (2014):

  1. Cyclist:                       2
  2. Driver:                        20
  3. Motor-cyclist:            7
  4. Other:                         2
  5. Passenger:                35
  6. Pedestrian:                55

Total:                          121

December 1 to December 31 (2015):

  1. Cyclist:                       1
  2. Driver:                        28
  3. Motor-cyclist:            10
  4. Other:                         4
  5. Passenger:                49
  6. Pedestrian:                51

Total:                          143

While there has been a slight decrease in the number of pedestrian deaths over this past December, they remain the leading class of fatality with comparatively high numbers.

Our enforcement efforts continue to be targeted at the main killers on our roads: speeding, alcohol and road use, distracted driving and fatigue. These efforts are supported by Safely Home’s multimedia campaign that is live online and on various radio stations. The campaign is on twitter (@WCGSafelyHome) under the hashtag #BoozeFreeRoads, and is specifically focussed on alcohol use, and the deadly mix that is alcohol consumption coupled with road use.

Our Provincial Traffic Officers will continue to stop thousands of vehicles during various operations across the province to inspect their safety, discontinue those that are not fit to be on our roads, arrest motorists who break the law by driving while over the legal alcohol limit or at excessively high speeds, and issue fines for various offences that threaten the safety of others.

With the festive season at its halfway point, and the rest of January to follow, we will continue with our on-going enforcement efforts and campaigns to make our roads safer as we move into the New Year. January will see many holiday makers making their way back home along the Cape’s major roads.

I continue to urge all road users to:

  • Be vigilant when travelling;
  • Maintain safe speeds;
  • Not to drink and drive;
  • Be visible to motorists when walking on the roads;
  • Be buckled up at all times, particularly children;
  • Take regular breaks when travelling long distances.

Only through working together, road users and traffic authorities alike, will we see fewer and fewer lives lost senselessly on our roads.

New handheld technology to bolster traffic enforcement over the festive season

By Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works:

Brand new hand-held devices have now been deployed by the Department of Transport and Public Works to assist Provincial Traffic Officers over this festive season. These hand-held devices (pictures attached) will be used by traffic officers in the field, as a fast, information-verifying tool that will assist enforcement.

These devices have been entirely developed and tested over the past two years by the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works, and will be in operation across the Western Cape; a first of its kind in South Africa.

The devices allow traffic officers real-time access to the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera system, which is linked to the eNaTIS database where all vehicle and driver information is stored.

How it works

  • The cameras ‘read’ the number plate of a passing vehicle, immediately relaying details of that vehicle’s make, class, registration status (outstanding licence fees), roadworthy status, offences, warrants, and ownership to a central back office.
  • This information can then immediately be relayed back to traffic officers in the field, positioned close to the ANPR, allowing them to stop a vehicle that has been flagged by the device for having offences attached to it.
  • The device also allows traffic officers to scan and read vehicle licence discs and drivers licences to verify their authenticity, as well as to pull information relating to past offences and possible warrants of arrest.

This is all made possible by a 3G link within the hand held device, that allows it to plug into the information system.

Provincial traffic officers have also undergone training to allow them to make effective use of this device, which has a user-friendly interface, and which has undergone extensive testing before being rolled out.

This system will also serve as an information gathering tool for our traffic management component, assisting us to plan resource deployment better in areas where it is needed most.

We are constantly reviewing our strategies when it comes to traffic law enforcement and best road safety practice. We will continue to employ innovation and technology in making our roads safer for the many that use them. We call on all road users to work with us over the festive season in improving safety on our roads, and ultimately saving lives. This period is supposed to be a joyous time spent with family and friends. Do not let reckless and irresponsible behaviour cast a deadly cloud over festivities.

Minister Grant, Chief Africa, and a traffic officer with the new hand-held device

Minister Grant, Chief Africa, and a traffic officer with the new hand-held device

Traffic officer scanning the vehicle registration disc with the new hand held device

Traffic officer scanning the vehicle registration disc with the new hand held device