South Africa: Minister Dipuo Peters – National Traffic Indaba

Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters address on the occasion of the National Traffic Indaba at the Durban Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre

MECs present

RTMC Chairman Mr Zola Majavu

Members of RTMC Board and other Boards present

Acting Director General Mr Mathabatha Mokonyama

Deputy Director General Mr Chris Hlabisa

RTMC CEO advocate Makhosini Msibi

CEO's of other Transport Agencies

Head of Departments

Leaders of Organised Labour

Officials from the Department of Transport and Entities

Traffic Law Enforcement Practitioners

Members of the media

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen,

Please allow me, on behalf of the Department of Transport and the Road Traffic Management Corporation to thank you for the warm reception and congratulate all delegates who have managed to attend this important Traffic Officers Indaba. The Inaugural Traffic Law Enforcement Indaba.

We gather here to pay a special focus on our law enforcement personnel, those who carry the decorum of our law enforcement responsibility. We meet our battalion today, having met on the occasion of our 3rd National Road Safety Summit, here in Durban on the 21 November 2016 and also having held the World Remembrance Day as well as the Wreath laying ceremony in honour of our traffic officers who died in the line of duty. We are meeting four days after launching the festive season road safety campaign in Eldorado Park, Gauteng.

Programme Director, it is the first time in the history of this country that ordinary traffic officers come together in this fashion on a national scale to discuss matters of concern to their chosen profession and the safety of the nation as a whole.

This Indaba offers an opportunity to look back the road we have covered, take lessons and prepare priorities for further implementation. The results of this indaba will be closely followed not only by the thousands of law enforcement officers who could not be here but also by other role-players and South Africans with keen interest in improving safety on our roads.

The well-articulated decisions you will take will be important for the entire country as well as have implications for our region, the Southern African Development Community.

Ladies and gentlemen, It is an undeniable fact that we are faced with a monumental task of reducing the carnage on our roads, so we rely on you, men and women in uniform, to help us make a difference.

The powers given to the three spheres of government on road traffic regulations in line with the Constitution are concurrent, while others are provincial and local government competences respectively. That has resulted in fragmentation and ineffective law enforcement among authorities.

This observation has also been made in the 2013 World Health Organisation "Global Status Report on Road Safety" which provides comparative figures on the level or quality of traffic law enforcement for various countries. Data from the report clearly shows South African together with India, had a rating of about 2.6 out of 10, assuming the second lowest countries followed by Uganda at about 1.8 out of 10, assuming the lowest country on the quality of law enforcement rating among 100 randomly selected countries.

The report further found that there was a strong correlation between the quality of law enforcement and fatality rates - the lower the quality of enforcement the higher the fatal rates thus emphasising the need for a drastically improved level and quality of enforcement in our country.

This is the reason we felt prudent and appropriate to call this Indaba. It cannot be correct that the traffic law enforcement fraternity remains fragmented and disintegrated with different conditions of employment, service, recruitment and training.

As the RTMC Shareholder Committee - comprised of the Minister of Transport and community safety MECs, together with representatives from the South African Local Government Association - we have resolved that a law enforcement review committee be established to review law enforcement across the country and make recommendations. The approach will follow the same model used by the Defence Review Committee.

The RTMC should work with all authorities in harmonising the Traffic Law Enforcement Agencies in support of Section 199 of the Constitution by ensuring:

Single and identical uniform for traffic law enforcers throughout the country.

Single and identical branding for traffic law enforcement vehicles

Single command and control for traffic law enforcers

Same basic conditions and career - pathing for traffic law enforcers

We can no longer afford the expensive duplication of services and lack of integration in the face of empirical evidence that it impedes our efforts to save lives and contributes to high fatalities. We can no longer delay the progression towards a single, integrated, unified and national traffic enforcement service.

The indaba offer us an opportunity to learn from each other and to reflect on international best practices that we need to adopt to bring traffic law-enforcement to world standards.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation is committed to developing a 21st Century Cadre for Road Traffic Management in South Africa. This Cadre will be a dedicated and skilled Traffic Officer who will enforce the rules of the road; who will protect and serve without fear or favour. This Cadre will ensure that all road users, including pedestrians, use our roads in a disciplined, orderly and safe manner.

The key purpose of Traffic Officers is to ensure the safe and free flow of traffic to prevent road crashes and deaths on our roads. The 21st Century Cadre that we are seeking to develop should be:

Disciplined and courageous

Responsible and self-motivated

Professional and display good judgement

Skilled and knowledgeable

Respectful

Honest and ethical

The Cadre should be equipped with instruments, tools or materials that will ensure that his/her personal safety and that of the community they serve is always taken. The Cadre must have a speed-measuring apparatus, alcohol test apparatus, measuring tapes, mass-measuring apparatus, summons books, infringement notices and an enabling motor vehicle.

The honour and advantage that comes with being a Traffic Officer is that you will be working with people and helping them to obey traffic rules, assisting to reduce the number of road crashes and thus saving lives. The challenge will be your ability to work with people with various personalities, having to work during holidays and weekends on a 24-hour shifts and performing duties in all weather conditions. Being a Traffic Law Enforcement Practitioner is more than a job, it's a calling.

Ladies and gentlemen, the world Health Organisation has estimated that by 2030, road traffic crashes and injuries related to road traffic crashes will become the fifth leading cause of death worldwide, overtaking AIDS, tuberculosis, and cancers of the trachea, bronchus, and lungs. This requires that we confront the situation with all the means we use when faced with an emergency. We have to urgently find new innovative methods to avert this looming disaster. We can no longer rely on old methods because they have shown themselves to be ineffective.

The high number of Road Traffic Crashes (RTCs) and its associated consequences has a significant impact on the South African society which continues to hamper socio-economic development and impact on the well-being of all South Africans. This impact is measured in terms of human lives lost, 'pain, grief and suffering', as well as an increasing cost to the economy.

The extent of the problem is exacerbated when road fatalities and injuries are seen in the context of contributing to a significant economic loss for South Africa. People injured or killed on our roads are often the breadwinners of their families and thus vital contributors to the economy at large. A study conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the RTMC has shown that the total cost of road crashes on South Africa's road network for 2015 amounted to an estimated R143 billion, equating to 3.4 per cent of the GDP. The economic and financial analysis emphasises the need to improve road safety in the country to ensure that South Africans live long productive lives and that fiscal resources be freed and appropriated to aid the country's development.

As a participant of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 (UNDA), South Africa has endorsed the global undertaking to save up to 5 million lives, and contribute to the prevention of up to 50 million serious injuries by 2020. A task we will relentlessly take head on because we have a committed, dedicated and diligent Law Enforcement Officers.

In accordance with this commitment, the government drafted the National Road Safety Strategy 2016-2030. This strategy embodies the principles of the Safe Systems approach and gives effect to the five pillars of the UN Decade of Action. These pillars are Road Safety Management, Safer Roads and Mobility, Safer Vehicles, Safer Road Users and Post-Crash Response.

Having achieved so much in the transformation of our law enforcement fraternity, we are yet to realise our Constitutional imperative of having a Single Traffic and Law Enforcement Service, as provided for by the Constitution of South Africa, Chapter 11, 199, (1) on the establishment, structuring and conduct of security services, which states that "The security services of the Republic consist of a single defence force, a single police service and any intelligence services established in terms of the Constitution.

It is gratifying to see that the theme of this indaba which is: "Advancing discipline, Order and Mobility on our Roads" gives expression to these pillars.

The strategy has set a target to reduce fatal crashes by 50%, from the 2010 baseline of 13,967 fatalities to at least 6,984 fatalities by 2030 in keeping with the National Development Plan (NDP 2030). I believe that it is obvious for everyone present that the key to achieving this is a consolidated and harmonised effort of the law enforcement agencies across provincial and municipal boundaries.

I have noted with interest that a number of sub-themes have been incorporated in the discussion that you will be having in the coming three days. I have no doubt that you will make valuable contributions on how we can take these pertinent issues forward.

Ladies and gentlemen, the environment in which our traffic law enforcement officers operates is constantly evolving and placing new demands on their shoulders. This then requires that we must also improve the skills that provide for them to be effective in the work that they do.

It is for this reason that we are introducing a new 21st century curriculum that will see the training of traffic officers improving from the current one year certificate to a three year national diploma.

The drive to improve the education and skills level of our traffic officers is informed by the wise words of our late President Nelson Mandela who told us that:

"Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine that a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another."

Ladies and gentlemen, South Africa has a population of approximately 55million and a vehicle population of about 11million served by a combined provincial as well as municipal law enforcement officers of about 18 916. This figure illustrates the amount of work that we still need to do as a country to ensure that we increase on the quantity of law enforcement offices we have as a country.

Ladies and gentlemen it would be improper for me not to address you on the issue of corruption. Corruption is a scourge that blights our image, undermines public confidence in our profession and is one of the key factors that contribute to high traffic fatalities in our country.

The South African Citizen's Bribery survey, released by the Ethics Institute last week (November 29, 2016) said the top five reasons for resorting to bribery in South Africa are to avoid traffic offences (36%); to secure a job (18%); to obtain a driver's licence (15%); to get a tender (7%); and to receive unauthorised discounts from business (4%).

It is clear from this survey that the culture of bribery is a major factor in influencing lawlessness on our roads. We can never succeed in inculcating a culture of voluntary compliance with the rules of the roads if people know that they can buy their way out of facing the consequences of their ill-discipline.

Programme Director, it is more than 30 the number of traffic officers arrested since 2015 on allegations of bribery, fraud and corruption.

During the October Transport Month vising the Benoni DLTC, I had the misfortune of witnessing the arrest of Licensing Officers on allegations of fraud and corruption. I can attest that it is a humiliating experience. It erodes your human dignity. I urge you to speak to your colleagues to desist from this conduct. It is not worth it. You lose your integrity and respect of family and peers.

I am gratified to see that this is one of the sub-themes to be discussed in this indaba. I am certain that after the discussions this week we will have more ambassadors amongst you. That you will not turn a blind eye when you see corruption and bribery taking place and you will help us to eradicate this unbecoming conduct by reporting it to the Road Traffic Anti-Corruption Unit or the Hawks. Corruption is an evil over which we must triumph and yes we can.

Ladies and gentlemen, In conclusion please allow me to reiterate my thanks to the RTMC for the excellent work they have done in organising this indaba and for granting me an opportunity to speak directly to the traffic law enforcement officers from all over the country.

I am sure that this gathering will give a new impetus to our joint effort to combat lawlessness on our roads, improve compliance with road regulations and decrease the number of crashes and fatalities.

I wish you well in your deliberations in the coming three days and hope that you will be inspired by the words of Henry Ford, an American industrialist and founder of Ford Motor Company who said: "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."

Thank you for your attention.

Source: Department of Transport

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