COSATU notes the National Assembly’s passage of the National Traffic Amendment Bill

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) notes the National Assembly’s passage of the National Traffic Amendment Bill.

This is a progressive and long overdue overhaul of our inadequate traffic legislation.  More than 15 000 people die unnecessarily on South Africa’s roads yearly due to reckless driving.

About 25% of traffic accidents are a result of drunk driving. Others are due to unroadworthy vehicles and persons who shouldn’t have never attained driver’s licenses. The conditions and safety of roads suffer from overloaded trucks putting drivers’ lives at risk and costing the state billions.

All of these have resulted in a Road Accident Fund in deficit to nearly R400 billion; further burdening the fiscus, squeezing taxpayers and suffocating the economy through unaffordable increases to the Fuel Levy. This long-delayed Bill provides critical interventions with its provisions including:

· Regulating and providing clear standards for driving schools, testing centres and weighbridges.

· Prohibiting traffic and testing officials from having financial conflicts of interests in their areas of supervision.

· Empowering traffic officials to impound unroadworthy vehicles.

· Providing clear conditions on emergency vehicles driving.

COSATU is however disappointed and alarmed that the National Assembly chose to scrap a key progressive provision of the Bill that provided for a ban on drinking and driving.  This sends a devastating message that we will continue to be a society that tolerates reckless and wrong behaviour, in particular drinking and driving.  This claims the lives of thousands every year and at great cost to families, the economy and the state. 

The Bill will now be referred to the NCOP for consideration.  COSATU hopes the NCOP will show political courage and reinsert this progressive provision prohibiting drinking and driving.  It must not allow some in the liquor industry to bully it into abandoning the ban on drinking and driving. There is space for a well-regulated liquor industry but there cannot be space for the abuse of alcohol that renders thousands of families needless burying loved ones each year.

Whilst the Bill is progressive and long overdue, it will remain a mirage unless government invests in local government where the bulk of traffic management resides. Laws cannot be enforced by a feeble system, under resourced public service and collapsing municipalities.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks-COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator