Minister warns killer drivers

AS the Eastern Cape tops the list of road fatalities in the country so far, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has invoked legislation that empowers Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) officials to arrest drivers and impound vehicles.

According to Arrive Alive, 21 people died in road accidents in the province this past weekend alone.

But figures in the first week of the month had already set alarm bells ringing with Peters.

In that time period, 28 people died in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal recorded 20 deaths, North West and the Free State 13, the Western Cape 10, Gauteng nine, Mpumalanga eight, and the Northern Cape six.

In her get-tough action statement, Peters said: "We urge all road transport operators to make sure their vehicles – taxis, trucks or buses – are serviced and in a good mechanical condition to avoid accidents and the death of innocent people.

"Whenever a bus, taxi or truck is involved in a crash, it mostly involves a number of vehicles and passengers, resulting in a lot of casualties and fatalities.

"In previous months, we have seen an increase in the number of crashes involving heavy goods vehicles and public passenger vehicles, and this trend seems to be continuing. We are now invoking Section 50 of the National Road Traffic Act which empowers the RTMC chief executive to deal harshly with the operators, vehicles and drivers who do not comply with the provision of the Act."

Action allowed included the suspension of operators, impounding and re-testing and the arrest of drivers and operators, Peters said.

Eastern Cape Arrive Alive spokesman Tshepo Machaea said after a black weekend in which 21 people died and several others were seriously injured, no other fatalities were recorded.

The worst accident in the province so far was a taxi crash in which five people were killed. - Estelle Ellis