N1 carnage needs to be reined in

Pictures of the crash victims laid out in front of their caskets at their funeral in Senwabarwana.
Pictures of the crash victims laid out in front of their caskets at their funeral in Senwabarwana.
Image: Antonio Muchave

A little over a week ago, 10 days to the day to be precise, the nation witnessed one of the most horrific road crashes that left 26 people dead in a multi-vehicle pile-up.

The crash happened on the N1 highway that links Limpopo to Gauteng. It is one of the main routes in the country's road network.

It has grown increasingly busier with the passage of time, leading to some major improvements over the past two decades.

The return of this country to the international fold has also seen the route being used to link up with countries in the Southern African Development Community and farther north into the continent.

At the weekend, more lives were lost near the same stretch of road that saw the horror crash a week earlier. It also happens to be the same vicinity in which former minister Collins Chabane died in yet another crash in March 2015.

It understandably elicited renewed calls for something to be done to make that section of the highway safer. Some have called for the erection of concrete barriers to separate the traffic headed in opposite directions.

Others have called for the reintroduction of passenger trains on a grander scale to ease the road traffic on the highway in the hope that it will be safer.

We are in no position to scoff at suggestions aimed at saving lives that would otherwise be lost in manners that could well have been avoided, but rail has its own problems or challenges in the preferred political language of the day.

Last Friday, the Rail Safety Regulator released its latest annual report. It made for unpleasant reading as reported on page 8 of this newspaper.

There has been 1027 train collisions in the 2017/2018 financial year. Add to the figure 450 train derailments nationwide and 588 occasions where people were struck by trains.

The news comes in the wake of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA's narrow escape when the regulator wanted to suspend its safety permits following several violations.

The report says there are only 41 safety inspectors nationwide.

October is Transport Month, yet the kind of news reported this month alone on the state of public transport makes for shameful reading.

Where is the leadership we yearn for? Don't these deaths keep our leaders up at night?

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