COSATU welcomes the National Council of Provinces’ passage of the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill

08 December 2023

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the National Council of Provinces’ passage of the important National Road Traffic Amendment Bill.  This is a progressive and long overdue overhaul of our inadequate traffic legislation.  Every year more than 14 000 people die unnecessarily on South Africa’s roads due to reckless driving.  40% of road accidents are related to alcohol consumption.  Others are due to unroadworthy vehicles or persons who should never have received driver’s licenses. 

The condition and safety of roads suffers from overloaded trucks putting drivers’ lives at risk and costing the state billions that it cannot afford.  These have resulted in a Road Accident Fund with liabilities now exceeding R400 billion; further burdening the fiscus, squeezing workers and suffocating the economy.

This long delayed Bill provides critical interventions with its clauses providing for amongst others:

  • Regulating and providing clear standards for driving schools, testing centres and weighbridges.
  • Prohibiting traffic and testing officials from having financial interests in their areas of supervision.
  • Empowering traffic officials to impound unroadworthy vehicles.
  • Providing clear and strict conditions on the driving of emergency vehicles and that these must be related to preventing loss of life or other real emergencies not indulging tardy politicians. 

Whilst supporting this progressive Bill, COSATU is appalled that Parliament buckled under pressure from an insatiable liquor industry and deleted a badly needed clause providing for a total ban or at least a reduction on the permissible alcohol level in drivers’ blood.  The current allowance for alcohol in the blood stream is clearly insufficient given the levels of drinking and driving.  It is shameful that Parliament placed the profits of the liquor industry above the lives of ordinary South Africans.  The 7th Parliament must show the moral fortitude and reinsert this critical clause in the Act.  We cannot afford to continue to treat society’s ills with kid gloves.  There is space for a well-regulated liquor industry.  There cannot be space for the abuse of alcohol that sends thousands to premature deaths every year.

Whilst the Bill is 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 skeleton and under resourced public service and collapsing municipalities.  Government must put in place in measures to prevent these necessary powers from being abused by any corrupt persons. 

COSATU urges President Cyril Ramaphosa to expedite assenting this progressive law.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687