New speed limits for bakkies proposed

The Western Cape provincial government has proposed several new traffic laws for South Africa, with one aiming to reduce the speed limit for open bakkies or trucks transporting passengers.

Andricus van der Westhuizen, the provincial spokesperson for agriculture, said a proposed 80km/h speed limit for such vehicles aims to protect workers that travel on the back of open vehicles.

The proposal follows a tragic accident on the R45 that left 35 farmworkers severely injured. Many suffered life-changing injuries that would affect their ability to work and generate an income.

Van der Westhuizen’s proposal included the following:

  • Strengthening road traffic regulations as they pertain to rural and agri-worker transport;
  • An 80km/h speed limit for open trucks transporting passengers in the province; and
  • A national government subsidy for rural public transport enabling bus services for agri-workers.

Democratic Alliance deputy provincial chair for KwaZulu-Natal, Shehana Kajee, escalated the proposal for national government to assess.

“Whilst the Western Cape Provincial Government has sought to strengthen rural transport in the province, the responsibility for traffic regulations is a national competency under the National Department of Transport,” Van der Westhuizen said in his proposal.

“The ANC National Government must, therefore, seriously consider the abovementioned proposals in an effort to improve safety protocols for farmworkers.”

Earlier this year, the Roat Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) proposed interventions to address the frequency of fatal accidents on South Africa’s roads.

The proposed changes included dropping the residential speed limits to 50km/h, while 120km/h freeway speed limits would drop to 110km/h.

The RTMC’s chief communications officer Simon Zwane said the proposed amendments align with recommendations made by the United Nations to reduce speed by 10km/h to bring down the number of road deaths.

However, he noted that the formal process to implement the changes had not yet begun.

South Africa’s roads saw 1,295 fatal crashes in 2021, increasing by 69 compared to 2020.

This represents a 5.6% increase in lethal accidents, while the government had aimed to reduce the statistic by 10%.

The department of transport and RTMC had also proposed speed limit reductions of 20km/h in 2019. The changes would have seen South Africa’s main road and highway speed limits drop to 80km/h and 100km/h, respectively.

“Our road safety strategy has considered all these factors. Legislation is being reviewed to address and bring in place an edifice of various interventions to respond adequately to the challenge that South Africa is facing,” a transport department spokesperson stated at the time.

“Among these, a review of the international best practice on speed reductions, as is the case in countries such as Sweden and Australia. Due to the unique situation in South Africa, these cannot just be implemented without an impact assessment study.”

The proposed speed limit amendments never came into effect.

Now read: South Africa faces colossal petrol price increase

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New speed limits for bakkies proposed