COSATU welcomes Parliament’s passage of the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill

01 March 2024

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes Parliament’s passage of the important National Road Traffic Amendment Bill.  This is a progressive overhaul of our traffic legislation.  Every year more than 14 000 people die unnecessarily on South Africa’s roads due to reckless driving and other road accidents.  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 amongst other causes. 

The condition and safety of roads suffers from overloaded trucks putting drivers and commuters’ 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-sought 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 disappointed that Parliament 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 unhelpful that Parliament removed this progressive clause. 

COSATU urges 7th Parliament to revisit the proposed total ban on drinking and driving and to 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, but we should not continue to normalise the over consumption and 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 under an resourced public service or dysfunctional municipalities.  Government must also 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