Killer road: students take action
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Pretoria - When a student at Sefako Makgatho Health Science University was hit by a car on Molotlegi Street on Tuesday night, other students took action.
It was the second similar incident on the road used by thousands of students, following one in April in which a student was hit by a bus and killed.
The latest incident left the student critically injured with severe head injuries and the possibility of losing a leg, witnesses said.
Also read: Pedestrians a walking nightmare
The students have threatened not to go back to classes until some form of traffic calming has been introduced.
“Lives have been lost here because of excessive traffic using the road, mostly at high speeds,” said Student Representative Council president Ernest Mametsa.
He said that after the first incident, they converged and proposed to management that there should be traffic lights.
“Management promised to speak to the municipality, and we were told that an agreement had been reached for traffic lights,” he said.
“However, we were told the university had to pay close to R500 000, and that management had agreed.
“They said the procurement was being handled by the municipality and for whatever reason there was a delay. We were not told what the delay was about. All we heard was that it was beyond the control of the university.”
Mametsa said they had asked for temporary traffic control measures and proposed speed humps. However, they were told humps would cause an overflow of traffic.
“If we are crying about students who are dying, how could anyone dare to talk about the overflow of traffic at the expense of people’s lives? They then came and drew pedestrian lines that nobody obeys.
“Students understand what the lines mean, but end up endangering themselves as drivers could not care less about them and continue driving at high speed.”
Mametsa said they wanted a traffic light, and they were willing to follow any processes proposed to get it done.
University spokesman Padi Matlala said they understood the students’ frustrations.
“We engaged with the City of Tshwane and the Gauteng Transport Department regarding speed humps,” he said.
Students would resume classes on Monday following talks and promises that traffic calming measures would be introduced, he said.
According to the students, the issue dated back to 1980, and many fatal crashes had happened over the years.
The April accident was among the worst - the victim’s body was torn to pieces, which were found scattered over the road. Students said motorists drove at high speed and ignored the pedestrian crossing lines.
“We feel like authorities are disregarding our concerns. There is a hospital along the same road. Some traffic control measures such as traffic lights and speed humps are needed urgently,” said Nhlamulo Bila.
Interim vice-chancellor Professor Chris de Beer said it was agreed a traffic light be installed at the entrance as soon as possible at the university’s cost.
“The appointment of a contractor has to take place in accordance with the procurement procedures of the metro. The process had started but not yet finalised.”
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