That is what Western Cape law enforcement officials are pushing for after a horrific taxi and truck accident claimed the lives of 23 Malawian nationals, including two babies, at the weekend.
“It is apparent to us that it is time that the same measures applied to the long-distance bus industry be applied to long-distance minibus-taxis, in particular, that long-distance taxis be required to have driving shifts and to have two drivers on board at all times,” said Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz and Transport MEC Robin Carlisle in a joint statement following an emergency meeting.
Taxi owners need to put people’s lives ahead of making money, Fritz told the Cape Times yesterday.
“Twenty three people lost their lives in that accident,” Fritz added.
“We can’t put people’s lives in danger by having drivers travelling long distances without resting because they want to make money.”
The two MECs said they were committed to instituting the changes “in as short a time as possible”.
They would meet this week to discuss the plans further.
Fritz and Carlisle said it was also time to revisit the operational plans of the “treacherous” stretch of road between Laingsburg and Beaufort West where the deadly head-on collision between a minibus-taxi and a truck took place in early on Saturday morning.
Malawian nationals based in the Western Cape were being transported to Malawi in the taxi when the driver allegedly fell asleep at the steering wheel and an oncoming truck crashed into the taxi.
Still shocked by the accident, Fritz recalled that it took place shortly after a road block was disbanded in the area at 3am.
The MECs said that because of the accident, roadblocks would be extended between Worcester and Beaufort West.
“With the holiday season upon us soon, we need the commitment and co-operation of all road users if we are to succeed in decreasing the very high rate of road fatalities.”
Meanwhile, national Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele announced over the weekend that the new National Traffic Law Enforcement Plan would be implemented as of October 1.
The plan would involve traffic law enforcement officers stopping and checking no less than one million vehicles and drivers every month across the country.
Focus areas would include drivers’ licence checks, drunk driving and vehicle roadworthiness.
One of the aims of the plan was to change road users’ perception of “I will not get caught” to “I will be caught and punished”.
Ndebele also conveyed condolences to families of victims of the crash as well as others around the country.
He also asked officials of the Road Accident Fund to do whatever they could to assist the families of victims.
* This article by Luvuyo Mjekula was originally published on page 3 of The Cape Times on September 20, 2010
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