Pretoria - Limpopo MEC for Transport and Community Safety Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya has announced plans for her department to partner with other provinces to set up roadblocks during the festive season.
She was speaking at the launch of the 16th Provincial Transport Month at the Gateway Polokwane Airport on Friday after a roadblock she conducted on the R71 between Polokwane and Mangkweng.
Lerule-Ramakhanya said plans were under way for Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo to have inter-provincial operations in place to curb road deaths.
Every year, Limpopo has one of the highest vehicle accident rates in the country due to the hordes of people going home for the December holidays.
A total of 1 448 people lost their lives on the roads during the “silly season” last year, with 188 deaths occurring in Limpopo.
Last year, the province had the third-highest number of road fatalities in the country.
Lerule-Ramakhanya said: “This is just one operation that we will undertake with our officials and our stakeholders. We are planning to have interprovincial operations with our counterparts form Mpumalanga and the North West.
“We have once again gathered to affirm the direction endorsed by our Cabinet in 2005, to position the industry at the heart of our economy, by dedicating the whole month to marking the importance of public transport. This year we are celebrating Transport Month under the theme ‘Transport’ as accidents pose a great challenge to us as a province and in particular, the department that I am leading.“
Last week Pretoria News reported that flights were to resume at Polokwane airport after its suspension was lifted.
"Transport Month comes at a time when this airport was downgraded from Category 7 to Category 2 due to adverse findings by the aviation authority.
“The absence of commercial flights between Polokwane and OR Tambo were not only detrimental to the economy, but it also defeated what the October month initiative aims to achieve.
“We have experienced the worst traffic congestion on our major roads, especially between Polokwane and Pretoria, due to the suspension of commercial flights.
“The Heritage long weekend was a nightmare to road users who had to endure long hours on the roads due to heavy traffic. We unfortunately recorded more fatalities on our roads compared to the same period last year.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank the aviation authority for bringing to our attention the hospitality industry that attracts lots of tourists into the province. The challenge pushed us towards the theme: ‘Together, let’s fix transport’.
"I hope many of you will seize the opportunity to make use of the air transport for commercial and leisure purposes in a bid to reduce traffic congestion on our roads.
“I also want to thank the SANDF for their role and their aviation expertise that came in very handy in addressing the identified safety concerns.
“We are delighted that your intervention has led us to where we are today . You have been with us from the beginning, and we are grateful that you are still committed to share the experience with our team.
“Programme director and distinguished guests, the majority of our people still rely on public transport to commute from their respective homes to places of work.
“I want to commend the taxi industry for the sterling work and the good working relationship that we have. The economy of this province is thriving because of your commitment to serve our people with pride. We know that yours is not a simple task, often you deal with conflicts that need sober minds.”