File photo: Leon Lestrade
Johannesburg – To paraphrase Neil Armstrong, it’s one small step for the law, one giant leap for schoolchildren everywhere. From Thursday, when Regulation 250 of the National Road Traffic Act comes into force, no person may transport children in the goods compartment of a vehicle for reward.

And the Automobile Association is among those instances that are cautiously welcoming the new legislation; at least it means that people who make a business out of carrying kids to and from school in unroadworthy or unsuitable vehicles will now have to replace them, it says.

But that’s not the whole story; in many parts of rural South Africa the only way for children to get to school at all, is on the back of a bakkie – and replacing them is not viable, the AA points out, because while the kids are in class the bakkies are used for carrying general goods of all shapes.

That puts the parents of these children in a cleft stick, it says – either they pay the bakkie driver to take their children to school or they keep their kids home; either way, they’re breaking the law.

“It’s a decision based on giving your child an education or not,” says the AA. “For this reason, more reliable, accessible, safe public transport is essential, especially in rural areas, where bakkie transport is more common.”

The new regulation also prohibits bakkie drivers from carrying people of any age on an open load-bed, or near any goods or tools – whether they pay you for the privilege or not. That’s a step in the right direction, says the AA, but it believes transporting passengers on bakkies, in vans or pantechnicons, should be banned outright.

It also pointed out that Regulation 250 is the only one that comes into force on Thursday; there’s been a lot fuss on social media about about proposed reduction of speed limits, curfews for heavy goods vehicles, and even having to pass a whole new driving test every time you need to renew your licence.

Those were, indeed, among the proposals put forward by the department of transport, says the AA but none of them was accepted, or written into law.

IOL Motoring

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