Ministers Take Level Crossing Safety Message to the Stellenbosch Community
Speech by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
Deputy Mayor Mayor Martin Smuts and Members of the Stellenbosch Municipal Council
Officials from national, provincial, and local government
Metrorail Regional Manager Richard Walker
Leadership of the Railway Safety Regulator
Ladies and Gentlemen
All protocol observed.
Good morning, Goeie more, Molweni. It is a great privilege for me, on behalf of the Western Cape Government, to introduce our Minister of Transport to you today. Before I do so Minister, please allow me to make a few introductory remarks.
As we embark on this necessary level crossing safety campaign, we are reminded of how dangerous level crossings can be when motorists and pedestrians fail to adhere to safety precautions. There is no greater reminder of such dangers than the tragic minibus taxi crash of 25 August 2010, at the Buttskop level crossing, where 10 school children were killed, and others injured.
Minister, we must do all we can to protect young people from the many dangers that they too often fall victim to on our roads. For the month of October, the Western Cape Government’s Safely Home campaign will be focusing on “Back-To-School Child Pedestrian Awareness” under the campaign online hashtag #SafeRoadsSafeKids. Events over the course of the month will be geared towards raising awareness for the plight of young people in particular, as one of the more vulnerable road user group, not only in this country, but throughout the world.
The Cape Winelands, where we are today, is the second district in the Western Cape in road deaths, after the City of Cape Town Metropolitan. Fatality statistics for this area show that this year alone, up to the end of August 2014, 200 lives have already been lost on the roads here, most of which were pedestrians.
With our partners at PRASA, RSR, and in municipal and national government, we continue to work together to try to ensure safety and compliance at all level crossings across the province, as well as moving towards a situation where fewer and fewer vehicles and people need to cross railway tracks.
Minister, one of the innovative ways in which we have addressed safety at level crossings in the City of Cape Town, in partnership with the City, has been the introduction of the CCTV level crossing camera enforcement project to monitor and prosecute level crossing offenders. This project was the first of its kind in South Africa at the time, and is now fully operational at the White Road and Buttskop level crossings.
Fines issued start at R500 for failure to stop before crossing the level crossing, with the possibility of arrest for charges of reckless and negligent driving. We are confident that our efforts will see the necessary change in motorist behaviour, which will ensure that we never again see a repeat of the past incidents at level crossings.
Our joint level crossing elimination projects, undertaken with PRASA, are well underway, with the Vlaeberg and Voltternberg Road projects already under construction, the Kolenhof Road project in the planning phase, and others in the pipeline.
Minister, I would like to assure you that together, we will explore all options available to improve safety and compliance at level crossings, as well as eliminating them where possible. I know that the safety of our citizens that rely on various forms of transport daily, is as important to you as it is to me.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the former Premier of the Northern Cape and Minister of Energy, our Minister of Transport, the Honourable Ms Dipou Peters, to deliver her keynote address.