The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport is optimistic that the number of road fatalities in the province over the festive period will be lower than previous years. A total of 1 714 fatalities were recorded countrywide in the previous period. Traffic volumes peaked at 3 000 vehicles per hour at the Marianhill Toll Plaza outside Durban around midday as holidaymakers returned home on Tuesday.
KwaZulu-Natal is one of the most visited holiday destinations in the country. The KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Department says close to 1.7 million people spent New Year’s Day on the province’s beaches.
Between one and two on Tuesday afternoon 3 000 vehicles were counted at the Marianhill Toll Plaza outside Durban. Most vehicles had Gauteng and Mpumalanga registration numbers. At the end of 2016 KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo jointly accounted for 61 per cent of the carnage on South Africa’s roads over the festive period.
Twelve people lost their lives in two incidents in Ulundi and Port Edward in the last five days. A traffic officer and five others were killed in a collision at a roadblock on the R61 at Palm Beach near Ramsgate on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.
It is believed the traffic officer from the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality had pulled vehicles over to the side of the road when a truck side-swiped them, before swerving and hitting an oncoming car head-on.
Department of Transport spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane says they believe the number of accidents has decreased. “We are of a view from where we are sitting that this festive season we laid an important foundation in terms of decreasing the number of crashes and the number of fatalities even though we will await for the national Department of Transport to release audited statistics and figures but judging by the patterns, judging by the number of fatal accidents that we attended to as the province we can safely say we managed to decrease the number of fatalities in the province. We are anticipating nothing less than 20% decrease this time around that is our estimation.”
Meanwhile, holiday makers say they are happy with the safety measures that were put in place. “I enjoyed the beach, completely. It has been a while since I came to Durban. It is the first time I drove down myself, it was completely amazing,” says one of the holiday makers.
Ncalane says they will continue monitoring traffic to ensure people’s safety. “People are making their way back home; our plan is prolonged until schools reopen. We will continue monitoring traffic, monitoring all important spots and routes in the province until we are assured that everything is now back to normal. But again we wish to appeal to people as they are making their way back home that they must be vigilant and make sure that they adhere to all traffic laws. Our traffic deployment and all the law enforcement agencies will maintain their visibility on the ground with the view of ensuring that even now as people are going back home they are safe.”
Ncalane has urged motorist to obey all the rules of the road.