Outcry over walker’s death

2009-04-15 00:00

THERE has been a public outcry about the safety of pedestrians in Pietermaritzburg following the death of a 61-year-old woman, Kantharuby Reddy, who was hit and dragged by a car on Manning Avenue on Tuesday while out on a health walk.

Mountain Rise residents in the area have blasted motorists for inconsiderate and reckless driving, but have also criticised the Msunduzi Municipality for failing to plan properly.

Most accidents involving pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles occur at busy intersections in the city. SAPS collision unit spokesman Captain Dolf Otto identified several hotspots in and around the city where there have been numerous accidents. “Some of the hotspots are the Imbali intersection on Moses Mabhida (Edendale) Road, Pietermaritz and West streets corner, Alan Paton and Alexandra roads, Topham and College Road intersection, Burger Street and Moses Mabhida (Edendale) Road, Allandale Drive and Bhambatha Road (New Greytown Road) intersection.

Masukwana (East) and Retief and Retief and West Streets have had numerous pedestrians hit by cars.”

Joggers, walkers and ratepayers in the Mountain Rise area condemned motorists for disregard of road signs and rules. Mountain Rise Ratepayers’ Association vice chairman Yunus Bayat said the tragic accident could have been avoided.

“It’s a disaster when a person who is doing what they love is killed in a horrific accident; this is beyond a tragedy.” Bayat said he avoids using Manning Avenue on weekends. “I try not to use this stretch of road especially on Friday and Saturday nights, to minimise the risk of encountering a drunk driver.”

Bayat said poor planning in the construction of Manning Avenue and lack of consultation has resulted in accidents happening on the road.

“They [the municipality] had no consideration for the impact it would have on the immediate community because there was no consultation process … In my opinion, there was poor planning for Manning Avenue as is evidenced by the bend at the bottom end closer to Masukwana (East) Street. There have been horrific accidents over the years on this road and I recall at least one high speed death on that notorious bend.”

He said there is another sharp curve near Chesterfield Road where several people were killed in accidents in past years.

Bayat has called for the municipality to implement long-term solutions to traffic problems in the city. “Our city has no decent functional short- and long-term plan to curb the traffic issues plaguing the north-eastern and eastern suburbs that the affected ratepayers are aware of. Such traffic density does not occur elsewhere in the city.”

A resident who spoke on condition of anonymity described her frustrations about the dangers of using roads in the area especially during weekends and peak hours. “It’s a busy intersection [Manning Avenue and Royston Road]. There is a mosque on one side and a school for the blind on the other side. But drivers come to the traffic light at a high speed, most of the time they jump the robot when it is red.” She said pupils from Arthur Blaxall School for the Blind are in danger from reckless drivers.

On Royston Road, immediately after the traffic light, there is a sign warning motorists about disabled children. However, Arthur Blaxall school principal Jay Maharaj said motorists do not obey the rules.

“Motorists sometimes ignore the signs, but we make sure that our pupils do not go out of the gate without supervision. We take special precaution because of their vision. We are grateful that a speed hump was built on either side of the school entrance.”

A regular walker said she has never experienced problems, but is always vigilant. “I have been walking for a while. I have never been involved in an accident, but there are always unruly drivers, especially taxi drivers from Eastwood, who don’t stop at a traffic light.”

A jogger in the area, Mukesh Seyambu, said running in the northern suburbs roads is not safe. He singled out Chota Motala (Old Greytown) Road near Northdale Hospital as another dangerous area.

Jogger Reshmi Ramkilowan said her complaints have fallen on deaf ears and that traffic officers should be deployed to busy intersections such as Manning Avenue and Royston Road.

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