RTMC out of line with sarcastic attack

Road safety specialist and founder of Driving.co.za, Rob Handfield-Jones, has come out in defence of critics of the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC). This after RTMC spokesman Ashref Ismail responded to concerns voiced by the AA in The New Age newspaper about the way in which traffic enforcement is conducted.

Said Ismail: “This is why the national rolling enforcement plan is critical in ensuring scarce resources are deployed in areas where they can make the biggest impact in reducing offences that lead to deaths.

Unfortunately they might not all be in [AA public affairs head] Gary Ronald’s neighbourhood where he is irked by people driving in yellow lines or treating stop signs as yields. Being sensational and playing to a certain sector of the community is cheap point-scoring, for which the AA will receive support from its own constituency, but it helps little in terms of constructive engagement.”

The article continued: “Ismail said Ronald was welcome to move out of his comfort zone and see special operations targeting public passenger transport vehicles.”

In response, Handfield-Jones slammed Ismail’s “sarcastic and condescending tone”, saying, “it should not be tolerated from a public official, especially one working for the RTMC which is an ineffectual and cash-guzzling disaster of a state-owned enterprise [SOE] which has utterly failed to deliver its mandate for safer roads.”

Handfield-Jones further criticised the corporation’s acting CEO, Collins Letsoalo, for claiming in a presentation to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee of Transport that “… so-called road safety experts …” were part of the ‘problems and challenges’ facing road safety in South Africa.” Letsoalo offered no elaboration on this statement.

Handfield-Jones, supported by a group of road safety specialists, sent a letter to the Committee in protest.

“I call on the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport to urgently intervene and demand that the acting CEO explain the ineffective state of the RTMC and remind its spokespeople that attacking critics merely confirms the impression that the RTMC cannot fulfil its mandate and has something to hide,” said Handfield-Jones.

“Under the circumstances, I certainly see no reason why the South African taxpayer should agree to the acting CEO’s recent request that Parliament increase the RTMC’s budget from R80 million to R240 million per annum. SOEs should cut their coats according to their cloth, and if this is not possible, the RTMC should be dissolved and reincorporated into the Department of Transport where it might actually function effectively, as was the case in the late 1980s and 1990s,” he concluded.

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