By LIKHAPHA THAATHAA
In the wake of the two horrific accidents that claimed 12 lives on the N2 outside Makhanda last week, Makana traffic chief Coenraad Hanekom said driving standards were plunging, and many motorists failed to take road safety seriously.
Hanekom said the number of vehicles on the road had risen steeply while the number of traffic law enforcement officers had declined.
There is a general shortage of traffic officers in the country – and just seven traffic police officers in Makhanda work on two shifts to cover the most significant portion of the day. The local department is short of vehicles and equipment and cannot bill for overtime.
Traffic police officers have several other commitments over and above law enforcement – they must attend to complaints, testify in court, and manage school pedestrian crossings.
All these factors contributed to the lack of visible policing in the city, Hanekom said.
He lamented that because road accidents are not investigated properly, there were no consequences for people who caused them. “Until every driver realises that road safety starts with them, the situation will not improve,” he said.
He said that motorists acquired fraudulent driving licenses, and the current driving license testing system is outdated.
“Citizens should start obeying the law without someone reminding them,” he said.
Hanekom encouraged drivers to renew their driving licenses at least two months before their expiration. He said there were many uncollected driving licenses at the Traffic Department and urged motorists to collect them.