Speech by Honourable Mbuyiselo Jacobs during the National Transport debate

26 October 2010

Honourable Chairperson
Honourable Chief Whip
Honourable Minister of Transport
All protocol observed

Our theme today says: "building a reliable and safe road transport network system". This theme should be adopted as our Bible in the Department of Transport and should be religiously adhered to, because it is our guide. The theme explains the gist of what we should be doing which needs the co-operation of all roads users.

Reliability means that our transport should be consistent in executing its job - meaning consistently ferrying passengers on time from point A to B without failure. Our trains and buses should be timekeepers for an ordinary man on the street. Our passengers should have confidence in the services, knowing quiet well that they will arrive on time wherever they are being ferried.

Safety means passengers board our busses and trains knowing that their lives are safe. Drivers at all levels should obey the rules of the road and take the interests of their passengers at heart. They must be sensitive, respectful and courteous in their operations. Passenger can take a nap on our modes of transport knowing that they will arrive safe at work or home. This is kind of transport system we envisage in our country, but also, the success of our transport system are depending on the good infrastructure that we should have.

This debate comes at a time when research is showing that carnage in our roads is increasing. The most recent carnage was the one which occurred in Kokstad over the weekend. Our roads have become death traps. The lives of our people have become cheap. Road hogs have lost respect of sanctity of life. It is now a norm for a human being to a statistic of road accidents. These passengers were family members, enroute to the workplace and whose lives were cut too short by irresponsible road users. We cannot go on like this. We need to do something, drastically so, as to give those transgressors little space to hide. One life lost is one life too many.

Recent survey shows that most of the road accidents were caused by drivers having alcohol substance in their blood. Six out of ten drivers who die in accidents have a high level of alcohol in their blood. An investigation into substance abuse indicated that 50% of truck drivers and 30% of taxi drivers have been drinking or smoking marijuana when these accidents occurred. Our people are dying, we are paralysed and ball watching.

During this transport month we must encourage all drivers to obey the rules and laws of the road in order to reduce road accidents. We need to encourage taxi drivers and their association to act responsibly to save the lives of their clients. They need to inculcate confidents in their industry. We cannot turn this country into lawlessness by condoning actions of irresponsible drivers. We need to be decisive, strict and be on the offensive for the road hogs and transgressors.

We also have to look at ourselves. Some of our traffic officers are corrupt and demand bribes for issuing drivers licences and traffic offences. It has become difficult for an ordinary person to make reservations to book for learners licence and drivers licence because those officers demand exorbitant amounts for the jobs they were supposed to be doing for free. We need to encourage whistleblowers and the assistance from the Hawks, if we do not want to have a corrupt country.
Hayi-ke Ngqongqoshe wethu, mawusebenze umthetho, futhi mababoshwe.

We are prepared to amend laws to give stiff penalties. Let us make road offences treason offences.

We applaud the national and Gauteng government for having introduced a Gautrain which has become a reliable rail network system. We urge the government to extend this facility to Soweto, Mamelodi, Sebokgeng, Matlosane and Kwathema. That is where the majority of our people are. This facility should also be extend to places like Khayelisha, Kwamashu, Mangaung, Kwazakhele because they are places were our people need it most. Let us not forget that those are the people who put us into power.

We also applaud the Rea Vaya bus system which was introduced during the FIFA World Cup. We urge that the challenges which bedevilled this industry should be addressed as a matter of urgency because it should be a reputable transport system. This facility must also be extended to other provinces. But we cannot allow My City bus transport system in Cape Town to be a white elephant because they are ferrying ghosts to and from the airport. They are almost empty. Let us redirect that service to where it I needed.

I thank you!