Death bakkie’s bad brakes

2015-02-04 00:00

A PRELIMINARY report on the bakkie involved in last Wednesday’s horror crash in Imbali has revealed that the brakes on the vehicle “were very poorly maintained”.

A police source, who could not be named, said although the final report of the accident had not been delivered, a first inspection of the bakkie showed that it had “barely any brakes”.

The bakkie, which was transporting over 20 children from Fezokuhle Primary School, hurtled down a steep hill and crashed into a house, killing seven children.

With no laws in place prohibiting the transportation of children on the back of bakkies, the KwaZulu-Natal executive council has called on the provincial departments of Transport and of Education to present a policy on such transport by next Wednesday.

“The executive council resolved that migration from bakkies to a safer mode of transport must be implemented as a matter of urgency.

“In effecting these changes that will ensure the safety of users of bakkies in general and schoolchildren in particular, these departments must include in their policy proposal and action plan the possibility of a special licence for vehicles that carry children to school.

“Whereas the executive council appreciates the complexity of the issue of public transport, particularly in under-serviced and rural areas, it, however, expressed its condemnation in strongest terms possible of the use of unroadworthy transport that puts citizens of this province at risk,” said the executive council’s report.

The Road Traffic Act of 1996 (Regulation 247 and 250) does not prohibit the transportation of children or adults on the back of a bakkie, unless it is done for reward.

The act does not limit the number of people who can be transported in a bakkie at a time.

Justice Project South Africa chairperson Howard Dembovsky said he was happy the government was looking at criminalising such transport.

He said it is ridiculous that it is a legal requirement to wear a seat belt in a car, but people could be transported on the back of bakkies without seats or canopies.

“When an accident occurs, these people are ejected from the bakkie into houses and trees, and their chances of survival are usually zero,” he said.

Dembovsky said the proposal was a step in the right direction, but it needed to be a lot stronger and extended across the country.

OVER 20 people have died and a further 50 have been injured in accidents across the country when they were thrown from open vehicles in less than six weeks.

This was according to ER24 yesterday, which said the number of deaths was calculated only through the accidents its paramedics had attended.

“Over the past few weeks, paramedics have attended to several incidents involving people who lost their lives as a result of being ejected from the back of open vehicles.

“Injuries sustained ranged from minor to critical. Some injuries sustained included amputations, severe head injuries and multiple fractures.

“Collisions included the deaths of several children, including a baby who was about a year old.

“The most recent incidents included that of a bakkie allegedly losing control and colliding with a fence and house in Pietermaritzburg on January 29. Seven children died and several others were injured.

“This was followed by another collision that claimed 10 lives on the N3 close to London Road, Gauteng, just two days later.”

ER24 urged motorists to ensure their vehicles were roadworthy and that children were secured at all times.

“Standing or sitting on the back of bakkies or open trucks, as well as overloading the vehicle, can result in serious injuries and death, regardless of what speed you are travelling at.”

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