KwaZulu-Natal traffic authorities on Tuesday launched their holiday road-safety plan by announcing a high-tech new system to trap speeding motorists and identify stolen vehicles.

The department’s new initiative is called “average speed enforcement”.

The summer holiday brings increased activity as locals, visitors and tourists traverse the length and breadth of the province.

“We will now have cameras that will monitor the average speeds of all vehicles through an 8,5km radius before and after driving past the device. The number plates and vehicle images will be recorded and transferred electronically through advanced computerised technology to the relevant camera office,” said provincial minister of transport, community safety and liaison Bheki Cele.

“The number plates will also be stored in a comprehensive database and used extensively for comparisons against stolen vehicle records and outstanding fine records,” he said, speaking at Mooi River.

Random pedestrian blitzes will be carried out at various locations on the N2 and N3 and a special bus will be used to pick up pedestrians on these routes, he said.

Violence relating to public transport is also on the list for the road-safety plan, Cele said.

“We want both drivers and owners of public-transport vehicles, especially the bus and taxi industry, to take responsibility for the safety of their passengers,” he said. “You have been warned — we will show no mercy to any driver or owner who breaks the law.”

His statement came after four people were shot and wounded on Tuesday during a taxi turf war at a Durban taxi rank. Two people have since been arrested.

Cele, at the launch ceremony, said the summer holidays are also a period of unacceptably high levels of deviant driver behaviour, which contributes to the high levels of road carnage.

“Some of the potential threats that we usually face during this time include public-transport violence, escalation of cash-in-transit heists, hijacking of goods and vehicles, fraudulent driving- and learner’s-licence activities, abuse and misuse of alcohol and drugs, unroadworthy vehicles used to fill increased demand for transport, and pedestrians and animals on roadways,” said Cele.

“All personnel will be made available during this period to ensure support for intensified law-enforcement initiatives. The no-leave policy will apply from December 1 to January 14 next year,” said Cele.

Roadblocks
Police have also embarked on an interprovincial campaign to hold cross-border, multidisciplinary roadblocks. “We will have Eastern Cape/KwaZulu-Natal cross-border roadblocks on the N2 at Kokstad and Free State — and KwaZulu-Natal cross-border roadblocks on the N3 at Van Reenen’s Pass. We will also target Majuba Pass on the N11, which is used by illegal immigrants.”

He added: “We will continue to improve the road environment through appropriate and innovative engineering measures.”

A special team of police officers will be tasked to carry out compulsory stop-and-search operations on all public-transport vehicles and trucks throughout the province until the end of January. There will also be random depot visits.

Police will target all unlicensed and unroadworthy heavy motor vehicles, drivers without valid driver’s licences and those driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, said Cele.

“Unlicensed vehicles will be impounded until a valid licence is produced. In the case of unlicensed drivers, the vehicle will also be impounded and only handed over to a licensed driver. We will also impound vehicles being driven without number plates.”

The department will be distributing road-safety messages at selected Premier Soccer League games in KwaZulu-Natal, at community soccer matches and in shopping malls and taverns during the holiday season.

“Just remember … look right, look left, look right again before you cross the road,” Cele said.

Emergency response
Meanwhile, the KwaZulu-Natal health department launched its “Alpha Operations” plan in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday in an attempt to ensure speedy response time to emergencies by paramedics, the department said. The effort is also intended to increase the number of ambulances on major routes.

The operation was unveiled by provincial minister of health Neliswa Peggy Mkonyeni at the Royal Showgrounds.

“We are living in a crucial and unpredictable world and as the department we have taken it upon ourselves to play a meaningful role in ensuring rapid and effective medical response to our visitors and locals requiring emergency care,” said Mkonyeni.

“The aim of the Alpha Operations plan is to provide rapid response to all incidents on all roads within KwaZulu-Natal and to display visibility of EMRS [emergency service] vehicles at strategic points and bring, excellent services to the people.”

The strategic areas to be covered include the busy N2 and N3 routes in the province between the December/January period, and the N11.