File picture: David Ritchie / Independent Media.
Pretoria - Road accidents cost the country R149 billion annually, drawing a warning from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) that this figure “is not sustainable”.

RTMC chief executive advocate Makhosini Msibi told MPs on Friday that this statistic was scary and posed a serious threat to the state.

Msibi and his team from the agency were briefing the portfolio committee on transport on a raft of changes in the traffic agency.

A few weeks ago Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi released road accident figures for the Easter period, which showed an increase of 51% compared to last year.

Msibi said most of the people involved in road accidents were young people. The cost of the accidents was huge for the state, and R149bn was a lot of money, he said.

Msibi also told the committee there would be sweeping changes in the appointment of traffic officers in the next three years. Among the changes was that officers would be trained for three years instead of six months.

Msibi said this was part of the plan to professionalise traffic officers.

They would also no longer be required to work normal office hours, but would operate 24 hours a day, like in the Western Cape. He said after normal working hours there were no traffic officers on the road across the country, and they wanted to change this.

They wanted traffic officers to work shifts, like in the police, with the first shift running from 6am to 6pm and the next shift from 6pm to the next morning.

They would work four days and take four days off.

Msibi said they were talking to the Department of Public Service and Administration to discuss the matter in the bargaining chamber because it would change the shift system of the officers.

“The issue of the 24/7 shift system, even in the Western Cape, has not been resolved. It’s not around the clock. That is why we say let’s go back to the bargaining chamber,” said Msibi.

“We want an integrated system. That is why we roped in the Department of Public Service and Administration, and Salga (the South African Local Government Association),” he said.

Msibi also told the committee that people who apply to be traffic officers would now be required to have an NQF6 level entrance requirement before they can be admitted as traffic officers.

The training of the officers would also be extended from six months to three years, he said.

Pretoria News

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