Drivers of government vehicles to be re-tested and issued with a second licence, Komphela
Free State MEC for police, roads and transport Butana Komphela says all government employees wishing to use state vehicles will soon be subjected to stringent tests to ensure that only competent drivers are allowed to use the vehicles.
Komphela said plans are at an advanced stage for all employees responsible for driving government vehicles to be tested twice to verify their driving skills.
He said traffic officers and members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) will be the first to undergo the proposed tests before they are issued with a second driver’s license. This licence is the one that will allow them to drive any of the government vehicles.
The MEC announced these stringent measures when he addressed the National Road Safety Strategy Consultative Indaba held in Kroonstad on Thursday afternoon.
“We are going to introduce a system where all drivers of government vehicles will have a second driver’s license,” said Komphela.
“The licence will be issued by ourselves as employers to say that we have indeed verified their ability to drive.
“Someone in possession of a valid driver’s licence was hired by the department but could not change the gears of a very new vehicle and in the process broke the car, all because he obtained a licence when he was not fully trained on how to drive,” said the MEC.
Komphela told the meeting that road carnages cost the country an estimated figure of R300 billion a year. He said this was money that could be used to improve service delivery to communities.
The MEC said the Indaba –which comprised mostly of stakeholders in the transport industry, was necessitated by the recent United Nations meeting in Brazil two months ago, where the focus was on road safety.
The UN meeting, said Komphela, also called for the halving of road fatalities in the next four years.
“The meeting in Brazil heard that accidents nowadays kill more people than migraine and HIV/Aids combined and this cannot be condoned. Stern action should be taken,” said the MEC.
Komphela said for this to become a reality his office would move with speed to “nationalise” road traffic management in the province and to create a single command centre for road traffic enforcement.
He said this would allow officials to be able to react promptly to any situation arising.
According to the MEC, it is very difficult to contact traffic officers in case of an emergency compared with the police because their operations are not centralised.
“We are going to have the same branding for all our transport and traffic department cars as part of creating a single command and identity for our department just like is the case with members of the SAPS,” he said.
Komphela said one of the major causes of road carnages is driving under the influence of alcohol and that the new campaign will put a major focus on that issue.
He suggested that the National Prosecuting Authority should engage with the department of justice for stiffer penalties on people found driving under the influence of alcohol.
He said in other countries, road safety is part of the school curriculum and it is introduced at primary school level.
“We are working to close taps on the illegal sale of driver’s licenses by targeting Grade 10 to 12 learners so that they are trained by reputable driving schools.
“By the time they exit the school system we want them to have a school certificate and a driver’s licence. This will help them avoid falling prey to unscrupulous traffic officials,” said Komphela.
Provincial police commissioner Simon Mpembe warned that police will not hesitate to arrest motorists consuming alcohol while driving. He said only sealed alcohol is allowed in vehicles.
“If you want to drink, do it from the comfort of your home otherwise you will come face to face with the might of the law,” said Mpembe.