School calls for action on deadly road

One of the traffic signs alerting commuters to bad the state of Rocklands Road which has seen increased traffic volumes as a result of the ongoing construction along the R75
Picture: Tremaine van Aardt

Still no traffic calming on increasingly busy R334 five years since tragedy

After the tragic death of two Ankervas Primary School pupils more than five years ago, the school is still waiting for traffic calming measures to be implemented to tackle growing traffic on the busy Rocklands Road.

Both commuters and staff have raised fears that a fatal repeat of that accident will occur as increased traffic flow along the R334, known as the Rocklands or Elands River Road, continues due to ongoing construction along the R75 or Uitenhage Road.

The massive R200-million upgrade to the road that leads to Graaff-Reinet is expected to be completed by 2020.

However, school governing body chairman Theo Jasson said regardless of the construction deadline, the road remained constantly busy, serving as one of the main arteries into Uitenhage’s industrial zone.

In 2012, Ankervas Primary School Grade 4 pupils Bulelani Ndarala and Siviwe Mbetshu, of KwaNobuhle, both 10, were killed instantly when an eight-ton truck, transporting fertiliser, mowed them down just after school ended at about 2pm.

Jasson said ever since the accident, the school had approached the municipality on several occasions to have a calming measure introduced, but to no avail.

“There have been countless attempts to get something done. When we asked for a speed bump we were told it’s a provincial road so it can’t be done.

“But then we requested a drop-off zone in front of the school or rumble bumps, but nothing,” Jasson said.

“We did get some signs on either end of the school but that is almost irrelevant. The only time we receive assistance is when someone makes an issue about it.

“Then the metro police will come one day and [be] gone the next.

“Even if the metro police could just assist in the morning and afternoon to help the kids cross the road, it would make a big difference. As it stands, it is not a matter of if, but when, the next accident will happen.”

Garden Town Initiative chairman and Volkswagen employee David McCleland said the situation had been amplified as a result of the construction on Uitenhage Road.

“We ride the road daily and it’s slowly getting worse and worse.

“The stray animals, which are synonymous with the two roads, also need to be addressed before we have someone seriously hurt,” he said. “Also, the powers that be need to be aware of the bad state of the road between Old Cape Road and the Rocklands Road at Freddie’s Corner.

“The huge trucks and buses that travel that road are placing a huge strain on the road that is being used by more motorists than ever before because of the slow traffic on the main highway between PE and Uitenhage.”

Rocklands resident Adel Harris said: “I was there the day the children died. One would think even as a tribute to their lives some sort of traffic calming would be put in place.

“The state of the road is terrible and there have been dozens of fatal accidents.

“Whether it be traffic cops, rumble bumps, speed bumps, or decreasing the speed regulation, something needs to be done before we bury another child.”

Municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said: “I will ask the officials. I must, however, indicate that requests of traffic calming measures are all treated with seriousness.

“Following the request an investigation is done and if confirmed that there is a real need, budget is mobilised for such calming measures.

“The municipality’s animal control has been doing patrols on the roads.

“Since the road construction and increase in traffic on the Rocklands Road, a special focus has been given to the two areas. More than the usual patrols are done.”

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