Friday, April 17, 2020

Pretoria: Despite the country being on standstill and citizens urged to stay at home during the lockdown, 26 crashes were recorded resulting in 28 people losing their lives on the roads over the Easter long weekend.

While there were 70% fewer cars on the road and motorists commended for obeying the lockdown regulations to flatten the COVID-19 curve, statistics still call for concern.

This year’s figures is a significant drop compared to last year, where a total of 104 deaths were recorded.

However, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said this is no cause for celebration because there’s still a long way to go to win this war against road fatalities, when he released the statistics on Friday.

He said most crashes involved pedestrians and single vehicles overturned, with contributions of 38% and 19%, respectively.

“Any attempt to compare year-on-year figures will be an exercise in futility as the material conditions are fundamentally different from a normal period where traffic is able to move freely,” he said.

The Minister attributed the drop of road users to schools closing early, cancellation of pilgrimages, and travel ban between metros, districts and provinces since 26 March when the lockdown was implemented.

While he praised the people for having kept it together this Easter period, as painful as the lockdown has been to many, law enforcement still had their hands full as they had to deal with the wrongdoers.

The number of arrests for violation of the road traffic laws stood at 719 compared to 1 343 in 2019. Meanwhile, a total of 104 140 vehicles were stopped and checked at roadblocks, 236 vehicles impounded and 171 vehicles discontinued due to unroadworthiness.

Mpumalanga recorded the highest number of deaths standing at seven followed by KwaZulu-Natal with six and the Eastern Cape with five. While Gauteng, Western Cape and North West each recorded three deaths. Limpopo had one, while Free State recorded zero fatalities.

“There’s no victory to claim out of that, unfortunately, as the Minister of Transport, I can’t pray for decongestion on the road. It is my nightmare for many years to come when we’re dealing with the Road Traffic Management. As the economy grows, many people get jobs, and everybody has a car,” he added.

Mbalula said the officers will continue to enforce lockdown rules and ensure compliance.