Spotlight on worker transport after 80 injured in truck crash
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Cape Town – Renewed calls have been made for stricter regulation of farmworker transport services after 80 people were injured yesterday when the truck they were travelling in overturned on the R44 near Klapmuts, Paarl.
ER24 paramedics received a call just after 7am to find the truck on the side of the road.
Provincial traffic spokesperson Jandre Bakker said preliminary reports suggest the driver lost control of the vehicle.
Bakker said there were 80 people involved in the accident and provincial paramedics recorded two people who were seriously injured, 27 had moderate injuries and 51 minor injuries. Bakker said they were relieved that there weren’t fatalities.
“The Department of Transport and Public Works is concerned about the safety of all road users and acts every day to promote safer roads through traffic law enforcement, road safety education, and road engineering.
’’We enforce all current traffic laws without fear or favour in terms of our mandate as a provincial government department. Where a change in legislation is brought about by the national Department of Transport as custodian of legislation such as the National Road Traffic Act and National Land Transport Act, we will do our part in making sure that it is enforced.”
The incident comes weeks after a 30-year-old farmworker was killed in a crash on January 5. The woman was among 37 farmworkers being transported on the back of a 4-ton truck when the driver lost control of the vehicle in heavy rain and crashed.
It also follows the recent attention on the transportation of construction workers after 10 people were killed when the bakkie they were travelling in overturned on Ou Kaapse Weg in September last year. The open-topped bakkie had 23 people on the back.
Executive director of the Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation, Billy Claasen, said the trend of transporting workers on trucks is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated anymore.
He said leaders needed to come together to find a solution.
“We have always maintained that farmworkers are the poorest, most marginalised and at-risk workers, labouring under atrocious working and living conditions.
“We have pleaded for years with the president to address the situation of farmworkers, but it seems that farmworkers are not on his agenda.
“We have met with farmers on several occasions and platforms but we still wait on promises,” Claasen said.
The Departments of Transport and Agriculture did not respond to questions by deadline.