The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) stated that there was no specific target for road safety in the Millennium Development Goals, however the meeting of Transport Ministers that took place in Ghana had developed certain targets and aligned them to Millennium Development Goals. A number of resolutions had been reached at the First Road Safety Conference in Ghana in 2007.
The vision of the Road Safety Strategy of the RMTC was to provide safe roads in South Africa with an emphasis on building consensus with all stakeholders. The UN had proclaimed 2011 – 2021 as the Decade Of Action For Road Safety and the guiding principles underlying the global plan were included in the “Safe Systems Approach” which were captured by five key pillars. These key pillars were Road Safety Management; Safer Roads and Mobility; Safer Vehicles; Safer Road Users; and Post Crash Responses. The 2011 Second Road Safety Conference produced resolutions under the five pillars. Each pillar sub-committee was to be chaired by experts from the sector with additional members from government authorities, NGOs, private sector and civil society. Co-ordination and implementation was to be done by the Road Traffic Management Co-ordinating Committee (RTMCC), which was the mother-body that set the mandate and monitored performance based on national prerogatives. The challenges and threats bedevilling the RTMC were lack of resources, inadequate funding; the need for 24/7 traffic surveillance by traffic officers; lack of HR capacity (17 000 officers to police a road network of 750 000 kms); low morale leading to large staff turn-over; fraud and corruption; fragmentation of road safety efforts and views of so called “road safety experts”.
In reply to questions, it appeared that only the Western Cape was implementing the 24/7 shift system for traffic officers to ensure traffic surveillance after 10pm when most accidents took place. The other provinces were deadlocked on introducing this. Members also asked for the number of fatalities recorded in 2010/11; what was been done to reduce the number of casualties on notorious roads; the number of registered licensed drivers in the country; which provinces recorded the highest rate of fatalities; if the roads in South Africa were well engineered; and which provinces were under-performing on RTMC’s national targets.
Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) Road safety & Millennium Development Goals
Mr Collins Letsoalo, RTMC Acting CEO, stated that the Millennium Development Goal (MGD) targets were to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; ensure environmental sustainability; develop a global partnership for development; achieve universal primary education; combat HIV/AIDS Malaria and other diseases; and provide gender equality and empower women.
There was no specific target for road safety in the MGD, however, there was a relationship between transport and poverty. The Meeting of Transport Ministers that took place in Ghana had developed certain targets in aligning them to MGD goals. It was agreed at the meeting that there was a need for rural access and urban mobility to be improved and cost reduced; reduction of response time for medical emergencies; ensuring that the transport sector ceased to be an agent for the spread of HIV/AIDS; reduction by half the rate of crash fatalities by 2020; improved access to employment; promotion of environmental sustainability in all transport sectors and harmonization of standards in respect of axle load limits.
He stated that the African Road Safety Conference held in Ghana in 2007 was organized by the World Health Organisation and the UN Economic Commission for Africa. The conference was supported by a number of international road safety institutions and attended by most African countries. The objectives of the conference were to review progress made by African countries in improving road safety; implement recommendations of the WHO World report on road traffic injury prevention; prepare for the first UN Global Road Safety Week; develop National Action Plans for road safety for countries in the region and identify ways to mobilise resources for road safety.
There were a number of resolutions at the Ghana conference:
• Establish a lead agency: RTMC had already been established in 2005.
• Improve data collection and management: RTMC had initiated its crash information management system and the monthly road safety report.
• Commitment to road safety education: RTMC had organised programmes such as participatory educational techniques, road safety debates and competitions and introduction of road safety into school curricula.
• Commitment to improving road safety management: RTMC had approved an integrated, comprehensive and holistic National Road Safety Strategy which was presently been drafted.
• Harmonization of national action plans at sub-regional level: the SADC Ministerial Summit on the Decade of Action was held in 2011.
• Develop quick win enforcement plans for serious traffic violations: RTMC had undertaken the development of the National Rolling Enforcement Plan with monthly targets.
• Partnership and collaboration: RTMC had established relations with the UNRSC, SWOV (Netherlands) , IRTAD (International Road Traffic and Data Analyses Group - OECD) and Indian High Commission. At sub regional level, collaboration with SADC countries on harmonization and an UICR contest as well as various national traffic, transport and road safety NGOs, academic & research institutions, community based organizations and the private sector.
• Develop rural road safety programmes: RTMC had incorporated targets into the NREP especially with regards to vulnerable road users, cyclists, pedestrians and scholar transport.
• National road safety targets: RTMC acknowledged that it had made very limited progress.
Mr Letsoalo stated that given the threats and challenges experienced in the traffic management environment, it was clear that RTMC would not reach the 50% reduction target by 2015 if these threats were not adequately addressed. The sample fatalities for a four-year cycle were: 14 317 fatalities 2005/06; 15 515 fatalities 2006/07; 14 627 fatalities 2007/08; 13 707 fatalities 2008/09.
In respect of the road safety strategy, the vision of the RTMC was to provide safe roads in South Africa with emphasis on building consensus with all stakeholders. The UN had proclaimed 2011-2021 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety and the guiding principles underlying the global plan were included in the “Safe Systems Approach” which was captured by five key pillars. This approach aimed to develop a road transport system that was better able to accommodate human error and take into consideration the vulnerability of the human body. Another aim was to reduce fatalities by 50% by 2015.
The Five Pillars of the Decade of Action for road safety were: Road Safety Management; Safer Roads and Mobility; Safer Vehicles; Safer Road Users; and Post Crash Responses. He mentioned some of the points from each Pillar (see document for full details).
Pillar 1: Road Safety Management
The focus of the RTMC was to have an approved road safety strategy; data completeness and accuracy and establishment of a National Traffic Anti Corruption Unit (NTACU), using Criminal Assets Recovery Account (CARA) funding, to tackle the problem of corrupt traffic officers. This would be in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies and civil society organizations. RTMC was also focused on implementing the 24/7 shift system for provincial traffic officers. However, with the exception of the Western Cape, which had implemented the system, most provinces had not implemented this system. RTMC had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and was proposing an MOU with UNISA and the Medical Research Council. Two RTMC officials had also been trained in accident investigations in Germany and 12 officials had been trained at Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) in management development, information technology, enforcement techniques and media management. Another senior official had been trained by the FBI in the United States on anti corruption techniques.
Pillar 2: Safer Roads and Mobility
RTMC had initiated the International Road Assessment Programme (IRAP) and had published the road safety audit manual in May 2012. RTMC was focused on loads management for heavy freight industry (weighbridges) to protect road infrastructure. The International Driver of the Year was also hosted for the first time in Africa with the UICR. RTMC was also focused on the establishment of specialized traffic enforcement units for deployment along major arterial routes/weighbridges/truck-stops and tollgates.
Pillar 3: Safer Vehicles
There was the introduction of New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) for South Africa. Greater collaboration was also sought between RTMC, the National Association for Automobile Manufacturers (NAAMSA), SABS (SA Bureau of Standards) and the RMI (Retail Motor Industry). There was greater enforcement focus on vehicle fitness, particularly on passenger transport vehicles, as part of the National Rolling Enforcement Plan (NREP). RMTC had embarked on Operation Juggernaut which focused on freight vehicles. On the most vulnerable road users, it was pertinent to note that 80% of fatalities were adult and male in the age category 19 - 34, just under 40% of fatalities were pedestrians in both urban and rural areas, while drivers between ages 25 - 34 (new and inexperienced) were most susceptible. In respect of passengers the majority of fatalities were females who relied on public transport vehicles. Children were vulnerable as both pedestrians and passengers. There was to be the introduction of Periodic Vehicle Testing in 2012/13.
Pillar 4: Safer Road Users
There was need for smart policing in respect of excessive speed transgressions and moving violations, particularly dangerous driving. The one million stop-and-check target, per month, undertaken nationally as part of the National Rolling Enforcement Plan (NREP) was to be continued and expanded. The RTMC had undertaken the ‘Operation Tshwara Setagwa’ in which a minimum of 10 000 screenings were to be conducted per month nationally. There was on-going road safety education and communication especially for pedestrian safety. There was the expansion of the scholar patrol project – ‘safe kids walk this way and think pedestrian’ project. There was the proposed introduction in 2012/13 of a graduated licence system for new drivers where greater restrictions would apply in respect of alcohol limits, the carrying of passengers and the application for professional driving permits for a probationary period of three years.
Pillar 5: Post Crash Responses
RTMC had proposals to incorporate incident management with disaster management, the establishment of a trauma information database, develop effective tools to monitor compliance with Incident Management, development of guidelines by the health sector for hospital trauma and the required care to reduce fatalities and the potential permanent disablements caused through injuries.
The 2011 Road Safety Conference produced resolutions for the five pillars: Each pillar sub-committee was to be chaired by experts from the sector with additional members from government authorities, NGOs, private sector and civil society. The draft National Road Safety Strategy would be tabled. There would be collaboration with international road safety institutions for best practice adoption. The Strategy would be presented to the Shareholders’ Committee for final approval and implementation. There would be a continual progress report to the Portfolio Committee on Transport.
In respect of co-ordination and implementation, the Road Traffic Management Co-ordinating Committee (RTMCC) was the mother-body that set the mandate and monitored performance based on national prerogatives. Eleven technical committees covering various road safety, traffic management, enforcement and legislation issues. The RTMCC was charged with the development of harmonized operations plans for the different spheres of government; implementation of plans; monitoring and evaluation of programmes; auditing of impact, output and outcomes and remedial measures were to be put in place where necessary.
The results of the implementation were stronger co-ordination and harmonization; singing from the same hymn sheet; effective monitoring and evaluation; greater awareness of road safety through a vigorous media campaign; small, but significant year-on-year reduction in offence and casualty figures and increased support from the private sector.
The challenges and threats bedevilling the RTMC were lack of resources, inadequate funding; need for 24/7 traffic surveillance; lack of HR capacity (17 000 officers to police a road network of 750 000 kms); low morale leading to large staff turn-over; fraud and corruption; fragmentation of road safety efforts and views of so called “road safety experts”.
The conclusion was that statistics from high-income countries provided ample evidence that road crashes and fatalities could be reduced through specific efforts in the widely recognized practice model of the 3 “E’s”. With sufficient political and financial support, South Africa could go a long way towards realizing the objectives of safer roads, safer vehicles and safer road users. A consistent, committed and sustainable Decade of Action was needed –and not a decade of talking. Finally, collaboration and co-operation were the hallmarks of this integrated National Road Safety Strategy.
Mr I Ollis (DA) observed that the figures provided in the presentation for the number of fatalities stopped at 2009. He asked for the number of fatalities recorded in 2010/11.
Mr Ollis said he was depressed at the high number of fatalities shown in the presentation and observed that the RTMC had been established since 2005 but yet there appeared to be no reduction in the number of deaths from road accidents. He wondered if the RMTC programmes were working and effective in bringing down the fatalities arising from road accidents.
Mr Ollis stated that it appeared nothing had been done to implementing the United Nations strategy. The projects for the first year were yet to be completed and yet the second year was already running.
He observed that certain major roads were notorious for registering the highest number of casualties from road accidents. He asked what was being done to reduce the number of casualties on these notorious roads. Had the RTMC contacted the necessary authorities to inquire if fences could be put up beside the roads to prevent people wandering into the roads?
Mr Ollis further asked for the number of registered licenced drivers in the country.
Ms D Dlakude (ANC) observed that the RTMC had been rendered handicapped for a long period of time because of the unavailability of funds from government. She referred to the challenges and threats identified in the presentation and stated that the RTMC would continue to underperform unless it was given the necessary resources.
Ms Dlakude commented that a trained RTMC official had been lost to the private sector and this was probably because RTMC was underfunded and lacked the necessary tools of the trade. RTMC did have numerous programmes to reduce the fatality rate on the roads but was bedevilled by lack of funds.
She also confirmed the submission made by the RTMC in its presentation that traffic officers were corrupt. The situation was commonplace in most of the provinces. So many of the vehicles on the road were unroadworthy and yet they were not apprehended because of corrupt traffic officers. There was also a need to take abnormally heavy and unmaintained vehicles off the road.
Ms Dlakude commented that the R14 billion given to the Road Accident Fund every year ought to be given to the RTMC so it could execute its programmes to reduce the road fatality rate. She was happy with the presentation and acknowledged that the RTMC was facing a lot of hurdles in executing its functions.
Mr P Mbhele (Cope) stated that the need for RTMC to be given the required resources was an issue that had to be taken up and given serious consideration. He asked if the roads in South Africa were well engineered and observed that it appeared most of the road accidents occurred as a result of human error.
Mr Mbhele referred to the 24/7 shift system and asked for the reasons given by the various provinces that had failed to implement the system.
He referred to the fact that there were only 17 000 officers to police a road network of 750 000 kms. This showed that there was an urgent need for more people to be employed yet nothing had been done about it despite the high level of the unemployment rate in the country.
Mr G Krumbock (DA) similarly referred to only 17 000 officers to police a road network of 750 000 kms. A little calculation would show that there was roughly one officer for every 40 kms. This did not appear to show that there were fewer numbers of officers to patrol the roads in South Africa unless there was an international benchmark which stated otherwise.
Mr Krumbock also referred to the high fatality rate and asked if there were certain provinces which recorded a higher rate of fatalities than the national average.
The Chairperson commended those provinces such as the Western Cape which appeared to be implementing the RTMC programmes. He suggested that there ought to be an oversight visit to provinces to see what was happening on ground and the challenges confronting these provinces. The Chairperson also asked the RTMC to identify those provinces which were underperforming in relation to its national targets so the Committee could enquire why the officials in those provinces were not carrying out their duties.
Mr Collins stated that the fatality figures for 2010 was 13 852. He would make the 2011 figures available at a later date as he did not have immediate access to them at the meeting. However, the 2011 figures were almost the same as the 2010 figures.
On the observation that RTMC programmes were not effective in reducing fatalities, he said that the RTMC budget before he arrived was R180 million but that when he took over the reins, the budget had been slashed to R73 million. This was the beginning of the financial problems of the RTMC and there was no way the RTMC would be able to do as much with so little money available to the organisation.
Mr Collins noted the 17 000 officers to police a road network of 750 000 kms which meant one officer for every 40 kms. However, 40 kms was a quite a long stretch of road and a lot of the accidents occurred as a result of dangerous overtaking.
Mr Collins responded to the assertion that it appeared nothing had been done in implementing the UN strategy. He stated that the RTMC had various programmes aimed at implementing the UN strategy but there were no funds to execute the programmes. Corruption also had a large bearing on the ability of the RTMC to implement its programmes. This was because the same officers who ought to be at the forefront of executing the RTMC mandate were corrupt and this affected the effectiveness of the efforts of the RTMC.
On the question of whether the roads in South Africa were well engineered, he said roads in SA were not well engineered. Most deaths occurred on the national roads. Despite being well maintained, these roads were responsible for most of the accidents. Most of these deaths occurred after 10 pm because there were no officers around. He cited the N1 as an instance in which the dynamics of the engineering of the road had caused a lot of deaths. The use of traffic robots were not a guarantee that traffic would be controlled. He cited the use of ‘roundabouts’ in many countries as a better option from an engineering point of view.
Mr Collins responded to the questions on the 24/7 shift system and the reasons some provinces were not implementing this system. He stated that people were reluctant to work odd hours during the night because there were no funds to pay them allowances for extra hours or overtime.
On those provinces underperforming on RTMC national targets, he said some provinces presented difficulties to the RTMC. He cited the example of the Free State which had flatly refused to allow RTMC to audit it. RTMC had no power to compel it to be audited.
He noted that Kwa Zulu Natal appeared to have the highest rate of fatalities. He suspected the engineering factor as being responsible for this. The high rate in Western Cape had reduced dramatically.
Mr George Mahlalela, Director General of the Department of Transport sought to chip in a few words. He referred to the 17 000 officers available to police a road network of 750 000 kms. It was not helpful to calculate that that meant one officer for every 40 kms – as done by Mr Krumbock. This was because there were different institutions to which the traffic officers belonged. For instance the Metros took up almost 70% of the available traffic officers. 12 000 of the 17 000 officers were shared by the Metros while the remaining 5 000 officers were shared by the rest of the country.
Mr Mahlalela commented that traffic safety was a shared responsibility. It involved the cooperation of all stakeholders in ensuring that not only were laws created for the preservation of safety but that all hands were on deck to ensure that these laws were complied with. He cited the dwindling training of the drivers of heavy duty vehicles which affected safety of lives on the roads He stated that the adequate and improved training of a driver would ensure that such a driver would be able to handle his vehicle and ensure the maintenance of his vehicle.
The Chairperson thanked everyone for coming to the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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