Covid-19

EASTER DEATH TOLL

Lockdown saves lives, on the empty roads

Lockdown saves lives, on the empty roads
Minister of transport Fikile Mbalula. (Photo: Brenton Geach / Gallo Images via Getty Images)

A total of 28 road deaths were recorded during the Easter long weekend. This is a sharp drop from 2019’s 162 deaths — but entirely to be expected in the middle of lockdown.

On Friday Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced a sharp drop in Easter weekend road fatalities — from 162 in 2019 to just 28 this year.

“This year’s Easter holidays came against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to a nationwide lockdown announced by the President,” said Mbalula at a media briefing. 

There had been a 70% reduction in traffic on roads due to the lockdown which started on March 27, he revealed.

His department has strict transport directives for the lockdown — rail services are cancelled, taxis and e-hailing services are only allowed to carry essential workers and members of the public needing health services and essential groceries. Also, public transport can only operate during peak hours.

“Our traffic law enforcement authorities had done extensive preparations for this period, which is ordinarily characterised by high traffic volumes to places of pilgrimage and holidays,” said Mbalula.

“However, these plans were disrupted by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic on our shores. This meant that schools had to close early, Easter pilgrimages cancelled and a ban imposed on travelling between metros, districts and provinces.

“Because of these measures, the number of vehicles dropped significantly over the Easter period, as the majority of people stayed at home in compliance with the lockdown regulations.”

However, traffic official did report the following:

  • 11 people arrested for drunk driving
  • one driver caught speeding 
  • 184 vehicles stopped for breaching lockdown laws and forced to return home
  • 719 arrests for violation of road traffic laws

The majority of the 28 people that died on the roads were largely pedestrians or passengers in overturned vehicles, said Mbalula.

Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal saw the most road deaths, with seven and six respectively. Eastern Cape was next with five deaths, followed by Gauteng, North West and Western Cape with three deaths each. Limpopo had one fatality while Free State and Northern Cape had none.

In 2019, over the Easter period, 807 people were arrested for drunk driving and 192 for speeding. The 162 deaths last year were a significant fall from the 309 of 2018.

Mbalula reiterated that most of the rules for transportation would remain in place for the 14 extra days of lockdown announced recently by the President.

“The Disaster Management Regulations published by the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, remain in force and have been extended for the duration of the extended lockdown period. This extension includes the directions we have issued covering all modes of transport,” said Mbalula.

Some amendments include the transportation of essential goods from ports to warehouse sites and the reopening of hardware stores under strict guidelines.

Mbalula added that his department was continually taking stock of the measures in place.

“In relation to movement of minibus taxis … our law enforcement counterparts flagged a critical challenge that once taxis complete their morning run between 5am and 10am, these taxis park at the rank, resulting in a mass gathering of drivers at these ranks, which is prohibited.

“These taxis should be parked at places where they ordinarily park overnight and drivers should return to their homes to avoid indirect gatherings,” said Mbalula. DM

 

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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