ACTION AT LAST? A bakkie carrying children crashed into a house (pictured here) on Edendale Road, Pietermaritzburg. What's being done to stop this practice? Image: News24 / ER24
Since October 2014 Wheels24 has been blasting the state about deadly bakkie crashes that have killed dozens of children and adults and injured many more as the - still legal - practice of transporting people in the load-bay of light trucks continues.
Now the South African Road Federation (SARF) has demanded that the government prioritise a change in legislation regarding carrying passengers - particularly schoolchildren.
SARF president Innocent Jumo said in a statement: "The status quo is intolerable. We simply cannot sit back and allow any more innocent children to be killed on our roads. We are therefore calling on the government and the department of transport to make an urgent amendment to legislation pertaining to the transport of passengers, and in particular the transport of children to and from schools.
"As far as we are aware there is no legislation that actually prohibits the transport of passengers on open goods vehicles.
"In fact, in certain areas, particularly rural parts of the country, people will use almost any form of transport, regardless of the obvious risk to life and limb, as they feel that they have no alternative when it comes to getting to and from from school or work."
VIDEO: Here's why you shouldn't transport children in bakkies
VIDEO: WCape MEC Donald Grant speaks on overloaded bakkies
VIDEO: Bakkie-crash fatalities rears ugly head
WHAT THE LAW SAYS
Regulation 247 of the National Road Traffic Act 93/1996 permits the conveying of passengers in the goods compartment of a vehicle provided that the sides of the vehicle are enclosed to a height of at least 350mm above the seating surface or 900mm above the surface on which the person is standing. This means that only minimal side protection is offered and there is no need for a roof covering.
The regulations also state that passengers may not be conveyed in the goods compartment of the vehicle together with any tools or goods, except their personal effects, unless the portion in which passengers are being conveyed is separated by a partition.
Video: What the law says about overladen bakkies
PLAN OF ACTION IN KZN
On Monday (Feb 9) Wheels24 reported that the kwaZulu-Natal department of education and transport would on Wednesday (Feb 11) release a "policy proposal" on the use of bakkies to carry schoolchildren; this after a crash in Pietermaritzburg that killed seven children.
According to the KZN premier’s spokesman, its provincial cabinet was looking at the urgent implementation of "safer modes of transport" but acknowledged "complexities of the problem in an area where there are limited modes of transport", SARF reported.
SARF's Jumo added: "In the light of the ongoing and needless carnage on our roads legislation falls far short of adequate. We need urgent intervention and alternative options. Most importantly, we need law enforcement to play its part in protecting the lives or workers and children.
"While the transport of passengers in open goods vehicles has been banned in certain countries there are experts in our industry that feel that we do not in fact need amendments to the legislation, just greater regulation and far more law enforcement.
"There are thousands of people living in South Africa today who still rely on these basic forms of transport, with little to no options. If this is the case, and the legislation is not to be amended, then we need to take a long hard look at the behaviour of drivers and take serious action against those who blatantly transgress the law and devastate innocent lives."
CHILDREN DYING ON SA'S ROADS
Here are some horror crashes reported on Wheels24 in which we called for state intervention to halt the slaughter:
Kids flung from bakkie in horror SA crash
In October 2014 the Western Cape, through its 'Safely Home' campaign, revealed shocking footage of a bakkie crash. The video showed a vehicle smashing into the rear of a bakkie, causing it to hit a road barrier, destroying its load bay carrying children.
Bakkie crash: Another TEN killed
In December 2014 Wheels24 reported that 10 people were killed in a collision involving a bakkie near Atamelang township in the Tswaing municipality, North West. Police said a VW Golf and a Toyota bakkie collided. Four people were in the Golf which was travelling to Delareyville; the bakkie was en route to Atamelang and was carrying nine people.
10-dead crash bakkie 'unroadworthy'
In December 2014, Wheels24 reported that 10 people were killed when the bakkie in which they were travelling collided with a truck. The provincial transport department said the vehicle had no roadworthy certificate and "it became clear to us when we saw the wreckage of the bakkie that it was not in good condition".
13 children hurt in Alberton crash
Another 13 children were injured when the Toyota Condor in which they were travelling collided with a truck on the N3 in Alberton on Monday (Feb 2), paramedics reported.
13 children injured in Pretoria crash
Two people, including a child, were killed when a taxi carrying schoolchildren overturned on the R101 in the north of Pretoria on Tuesday (Feb 3) morning, said paramedics.
Wheels24 applauds SARF and KZN for at least recognising that there's is a severe problem and calling for action. Will the central government - the ANC - take action to halt the slaughter of the children of its electorate?
P.Agostinetto said: "I agree with the change of legislation however double cab bakkies should be VAT deductible. This will solve a large portion of our problems. The tax man sees double cabs as leisure vehicles. This piece of legislation should be changed in tandem and our people should be transported safely. This will open out a whole new business models with double cabs with full size buckets."
What do you think should be done to curb bakkie crashes? Should it be illegal to transport people in the load bay of an open-topped bakkie? Email us and we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24.