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Road safety in SA: Open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa

2018-03-27 08:07

Sudhir Matai

Image: Arrive Alive

An open letter to the President of the Republic of South African, His Excellency
Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa (and honourable ministers, Nhlanhla Musa Nene and Dr. Bonginkosi Emmanuel "Blade" Nzimande)

Cape Town - Firstly, Sir, let me congratulate you on your appointment to the post of highest-serving civil servant in this beautiful country of ours. Your appointment as president couldn’t have come soon enough as the previous administration seems to have caused widespread havoc within the halls of power, the economy and the country at large.

I had considered writing this letter to you a few days after you were sworn in, but talk around the water cooler revolved around the fact that soon enough you would reshuffle the cabinet.

The aim, presumably, to remove ministers from crucial positions within parliament who were, shall we say, “malleable” to external forces. With the rumoured reshuffle taking place and two key appointments made (in Finance and Transport) I thought it time to share my thoughts and views with you and your esteemed colleagues.

A few weeks ago the outgoing Minister of Finance (Malusi Gigaba) announced in his budget speech, the increase of value added tax (VAT) by one percentage point to 15%. This decision was met negatively by business and private individuals. It seems that the deficit created by the previous administration and its extra-curricular “activities” left a budget deficit that needs addressing in the short term for South Africa to return to prosperity… or at very least stay afloat. 

What do you think can be done to improve road safety in SA? Email us

                                                              Image: News24 / Duncan Alfreds

I have, I believe, a solution to create further productivity and prosperity within all sectors of the South African economy, though it may come across as a tad simplistic: MAKE OUR ROAD SYSTEMS MORE EFFICIENT… I know it sounds like an odd manner to boost economic prosperity, but hear me out for a moment.

Every day thousands upon thousands of hard-working South Africans brave the swamp that is our local road network. In some parts of the country tax-paying citizens sit in traffic for up to 90 minutes on each leg of their daily commute. That’s 400 minutes a week or over twenty-six and half hours per month (in excess of two full working days). 

Imagine, dear sirs, if we could reduce that number to half of what it is currently. We could get these dedicated souls into their offices earlier each day and back home to their loved ones each evening. The increased levels of happiness and decreased levels of stress/anxiety would make us all far more productive humans when we are sitting in our offices or cubicles, delivering better results in the process. 

What do you think should be done to make South African roads safer?  Email us

Now I realise that creating extra roads is not a viable short-term solution, but there is a way to improve current conditions nonetheless. Existing traffic officers and police force members can be deployed every morning and evening to crucial junctions in major cities around SA to increase the flow of traffic into and out of CBDs. Saving just twenty minutes on each leg of everyone’s daily journey is the equivalent of adding another day to the working month.

'Traffic Alleviation Force'

Alternately, we could alleviate some of the widespread unemployment currently experience in South Africa by creating a “Traffic Alleviation Force” whose sole purpose it is to ensure that traffic flows at optimum levels during the working day.
Day in and day out we are faced with bottlenecks and traffic jams in the same areas, just listen to any traffic report daily, so why not help ease some of this unnecessary evil by addressing the problem. I am certain that, without the benefit of flashing blue lights and multi-car police escort, you would not be able to make it to half of the important engagements a man in your position has to attend if you had to deal with traffic as us mere mortals have to.

Fortunate side effects of increasing traffic flow include a reduction of carbon emissions from vehicles sitting in traffic, with a proportionate reduction is pollution, potentially fewer accidents and incidents (which usually increases daily traffic by a large degree), a happier more productive workforce and confidence in the state’s ability to create an environment that is conducive to prosperity and the happiness of its citizens. 

It may seem like a simple fix for a large problem, because it is. It requires no new infrastructure, very little additional training, though it can create additional employment (another issue I know you are keen to address), yet it has the potential to have far-reaching positive consequences. 

Sudhir Matai has been an automotive journalist for the last fifteen years. In this time he has penned hundreds of articles on new vehicles. He's used insights gleaned while driving in several dozen foreign countries to commentate on the state of local motoring. Away from his keyboard he is an ardent follower of Formula 1 and part-time racer. Follow Sudhir on Twitter  and Instagram


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