COFIMVABA, SOUTH AFRICA, May 5 — Road accidents are costing South Africa billions of rands per year, said Deputy Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga.
Speaking when she launched the 2015 Road Safety Week themed “Children and Roads, SavekidsLives” in this town in Eastern Cape Province Monday, she said the Road Accident Fund spent at least 1.5 billion Rand (about 127 million US dollars) a month compensating victims of road accidents.
The United Nations global status report on road safety reveals that 1.2 million road deaths happen worldwide annually. Most of these accidents occur in middle income countries, particularly in Africa.
The report further reveals that 27 per cent of people who are killed on the road are pedestrians and cyclists. The death toll on South African roads over the past Easter holiday increased to 287 from 193 in the same holiday period last year.
Chikunga said these accidents were putting a strain on the economy. “The cost of accidents to our economy is estimated at 306 billion (about 25.9 billion USD) per year, because when somebody is in an accident, either they die or get injured and to manage them in hospitals costs a lot of money.”
The Eastern Cape provincial transport department has decided to deal directly with individual public transport operators for its school transport programme. An amount of more than R400 million has been set aside for the 2015 academic year.
However, the programme is still facing challenges with some operators using vehicles other than the ones which were approved for transporting students who say they don’t feel safe on the road, especially when using public transport.
The decision to host the event in the Eastern Cape is in view of the high number of school transport accidents in the province and other related scholar safety dynamics.