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Final Easter toll will be down, says minister

South Africa
Pretoria - Minister of transport Joe Maswanganyi is confident this year’s Easter weekend road deaths will be significantly down on 2016, despite preliminary reports showing an increase in fatalities in Gauteng.

Ishmail Mnisi, spokesperson for the Department of Transport, said: “The minister’s view is that drivers, pedestrians and passengers heeded the call for road safety. We are confident that the number of fatalities will have reduced, and when we release the statistics on Friday we will record a decrease.”

The long weekend attracted a lot of travelling, increased accidents and fatalities. Mnisi said Maswanganyi thanked law enforcement officers for their work and overtime spent ensuring people adhered to the rules of the road. He also thanked motorists, pedestrians and passengers for taking road safety seriously.

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Motorists head home yesterday in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the N1 south towards Pretoria. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

Mnisi said they were not in a position to speculate on the numbers as the Easter weekend was not officially over, but by Friday when the numbers are revealed they will have had a chance to interpret what the numbers mean and to what a decrease is attributed. A decrease in road fatalities would not be new as last year during this time former transport minister Dipuo Peters revealed that there were 156 road accidents over Easter compared to 287 in 2015.

The big road accident story of the weekend was a bus crash in KwaZulu-Natal where 14 people lost their lives and another eight in the Western Cape.

“We are aware of the major incidents on our roads, but generally we are quite happy with the behaviour,” Mnisi said.

The department released a statement on Monday expressing its condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones during this time.

“The national department of transport has expressed its profound condolences to the families of the deceased who lost their loved ones during this weekend and wishes a speedy recovery to those who were injured in various car crashes from the start of the Easter weekend,” it said.

'Alarming' number of drunk drivers and speedsters   

In Pretoria one person died and four sustained moderate injuries in an accident between a bus and dump truck. The two vehicles collided on the corner of Pretorius and Du Toit streets in the inner city and then crashed into a nearby store. The driver of the bus succumbed to his injuries while three other passengers were taken to the Tshwane District Hospital.

ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said: “There was nothing paramedics could do for him and he was declared dead at the scene.”

Tshwane metro police department spokesman Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said he could not speak about statistics until the minister released them on Friday.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation said it had arrested an “alarming” number of drunk drivers and road speedsters. Spokesman Simon Zwane said more than 1700 people had been caught speeding while 84 people were driving without a licence and 345 people had overloaded their vehicles.

Impounded 

“We can no longer tolerate habitual traffic offenders," he said. "We therefore call upon the judiciary to impose stiffer sentences to perpetual traffic offenders. We are sending a clear message to traffic offenders that the honeymoon is over.”

 The unroadworthy vehicles which were impounded would not be released until after the Easter weekend, he added.

The bus strike which threatened to derail Easter weekend travel plans ended during the weekend with unions accepting a nine percent wage increase.

Meanwhile, there was bumper-to-bumper traffic at the Pumulani and Carousel toll plazas on Monday. At noon the vehicles that crossed the Carousel south toll plaza coming into Gauteng, peaked at 2800 per hour and at 3pm the Pumulani south toll plaza saw 2700 vehicles per hour.

Pretoria News 

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