Open letter to the Minister of Transport

FOCUS editor Charleen Clarke recently met Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters, when she travelled to Cape Town to witness Golden Arrow Bus Services receiving its Road Transport Management System (RTMS) accreditation. Read more about this milestone in the South African bus industry on page 54 of this issue of FOCUS.

Dear Minister Peters

First, I must say that it was an honour to meet you at the Golden Arrow Bus Services function in Cape Town recently, when you officially handed Road Transport Management System (RTMS) accreditation to this superb bus operator.

As an aside, I have to tell you that your presence cost me a beer. Having attended so very many official functions in the past, which your predecessors or members of your department were meant to attend (but didn’t), I thought you probably wouldn’t make it either. So I bet one of the delegates a beer that you wouldn’t arrive. I have to say that it’s the one bet that I actually wanted to lose … because I wanted to meet you.

It was thus that, when you did arrive at the event, I was one beer poorer, but one meeting richer.

Anyway, I digress. It was good to meet and listen to you. I love your sense of humour (when you commented that your bio sounded like an obituary), your humble nature and the fact that you’re really down to earth.

Gosh, we even shared a glass of wine together after the official proceedings had ended (neither of us was driving so it was quite okay). I was quite sorry when your bodyguards rushed you out of the function room.

I really need to chat to you, however, about something that’s really close to my heart: the regulations you want to introduce at the end of this year. Maybe if I ask nicely … unlike all those nasty people on social media who say you don’t know what you’re doing … you will reconsider. Just maybe … Now I know that you deal with new regulations each and every day, so allow me to remind you about the regulations to which I am referring …

The first is the requirement for a driver evaluation before a licence is renewed. You know what? In theory it is a cool idea, but let’s face it, this is just not the most practical of notions. How on earth are you going to get this right? It’s going to involve employing a small army of people. I hope it doesn’t give officials more opportunities to earn bribes (ag, I am sure it won’t; I’m just being a cynic again). Perhaps it would be easier to crack down on false licences?

Then there are the rules pertaining to people in the back of a bakkie. You are suggesting that no more than five adults – and absolutely no children – should be transported in a bakkie load bed.

Minister Peters, I have to tell you that I once fell out of the back of a bakkie – I narrowly avoided being paralysed. Bakkies are not made to transport people – young or old.

Don’t you think it would be appropriate to ban everyone from being in the back of a bakkie? Oh, and while we’re chatting about children, any chance you could get your traffic cops to ensure that kids are always strapped up?

Gosh, then there is that suggestion that the speed limit is reduced – from 60 to 40 km/h in towns, 100 to 80 km/h on rural roads and 120 to 100 km/h on city freeways. Shame, you have really been taking some flak about this hey? You poor dear. It was much easier being a social scientist, wasn’t it?

The problem, you see, is that speed is not killing thousands of South Africans each year. The lack of enforcement is the problem here! Have you driven on the N3 to Durban recently? Of course not, silly me. Tsk tsk.

Let me tell you about it. No one speeds on the highways in KwaZulu-Natal – because the police there just don’t play fair. They hide in bushes and pounce on those who speed, dishing out huge fines. When you try to bribe them, they refuse. I know this because a friend of mine told me.

Do you see what I am saying? People stick to the rules of the road in the Zulu kingdom – the consequences of ignoring them are just too expensive. Maybe you could consider getting that level of enforcement to exist in other provinces too? #JustSaying?

Finally, there is the issue of banning goods vehicles heavier than 9 000 kg from roads between 06:00 to 09:00 and then from 17:00 to 20:00, Monday to Friday.

With all due respect ma’am, this is as ridiculous as banning boerewors from braais. It just won’t work. It will just cost too much, you see. Drivers won’t work overtime without being paid – meaning consumer prices will skyrocket. Remember that glass of wine we shared? It will cost more. That would really break my heart.

Then there are the many practical issues. Where would you like all the trucks to park? Please … not outside my house. Oh, and what about the safety of the drivers while they’re parked? We all know that it’s a lot easier to hijack a stationary vehicle …

Minister Peters, I am sure that a number of other people have come up with these ideas … I am sure that they are not all your doing. So hey, I’m not blaming you or anything like that, but please … as my newly found drinking buddy … I am asking you to give them some thought. You’re one smart lady. I know you will do the right thing. So, until our next glass of wine together … cheers!

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publication in southern Africa.
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