The Minister of Transport, Dr Blade Nzimande, announced a 41% decrease in road fatalities over the Easter holiday period. The Minister noted that there were 104 road fatalities nationally this year compared with 504 deaths during the same period last year. However, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) reported that at least 549 drivers were arrested for various offences during the holidays, with 312 arrested for drinking and driving.
This means that a lot of work still needs to be done to positively change driver behaviour and habits that put other road users at risk. On the positive, it does seem that effective law enforcement impacted positively on the road fatalities. Consistent law enforcement greatly assists in changing driver behaviour.
Road accidents cost South Africa billions of Rands annually. A report published in 2016 titled “Costs of crashes in South Africa – Research and Development Report August 2016” by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and commissioned by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) stated that the 2015 cost to the South African economy was a staggering R142,95 billion, equating to 3,4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This has a lasting impact on the social intangible consequences that includes the rehabilitation of disabled victims, surviving family members, healthcare, criminal and court proceeding as well as insurance claims.
In the last week KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has been hit by heavy rainfall that led to flooding in the area and unfortunate loss of life. By Wednesday last week, over 50 people had been reported dead, and damage and loss of property are still to be quantified. A high number of flooded homes with collapsed walls had been reported and hundreds having been assessed as damaged. The sudden heavy rain resulted in the flash floods which are, in part, a result of inadequate maintenance of drainage systems. Roads remained flooded disrupting traffic as KZN entered its first working day after the Easter weekend.
SAIA would like to urge all motorists and pedestrians to exercise extreme caution on the roads that are already flooded or where there is high risk of flash flooding. The damage caused by these events is a major concern for the insurance and reinsurance industries, as well as the socio-economic impact these may have on communities, businesses and the government in an already strained economic climate.
The insurance industry is continuously seeking to partner with the relevant stakeholders to address these issues and to find ways to better deal with catastrophes and weather-related risks for the benefit of society. With such unpredictable swings in weather conditions, the implementation of a well-coordinated local government infrastructure maintenance plan is of the essence. As an industry, we have begun taking serious steps to engage with our municipalities to find ways in which we can be of assistance to ensure that such risks are better managed, so that we can all live in safer and well-maintained cities.
SAIA Chief Executive