Mbalula pushes for swift law change to enforce zero-alcohol driving limit

25 August 2020 - 22:28 By STHEMBILE CELE
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula on Tuesday called for the Road Traffic Amendment Bill to become law.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula on Tuesday called for the Road Traffic Amendment Bill to become law.
Image: Fikile Mbalula via Twitter

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has reiterated a call for the adoption of laws that would prohibit motorists from getting behind the wheel of a car having consumed even a drop of alcohol.

Mbalula made the call for the Road Traffic Amendment Bill to swiftly become law.

He was speaking on Tuesday, after a weekend of carnage on the roads. The deaths and injuries took place during the first weekend since the reintroduction of the sale of alcohol under level 2 of the country's lockdown laws.

Despite restrictions - including that trading hours be limited to Monday to Thursday between 9am and 5pm - incidents of alcohol-related accidents spiked at the weekend.

“Research conducted by the RTMC [Road Traffic Management Corporation] in collaboration with the South African Medical Research Council [SAMRC] and the University of South Africa [Unisa] shows that driver alcohol intoxication accounts for 27.1% of fatal crashes in the country. This is estimated to cost the economy R18.2bn annually," said Mbalula.

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He was speaking during a press briefing where he formally presented new directives for transport under level 2.

The minister pointed to an incident in Tshwane in the early hours of Sunday morning when three of the city's metro police officers were killed in an accident involving a suspected drunk driver.

Liquor stores were awash with panic buying on Tuesday afternoon after rumours that President Cyril Ramaphosa would address the nation in the evening and reintroduce the ban on alcohol.

Mbalula said while there were no plans to reintroduce the ban as yet, the country needed to start looking at permanent measures to stop the carnage on the roads.

“The Road Traffic Amendment Bill was introduced  in June this year in parliament and introduces 0% alcohol level for all motorists," he said.

The bill states that nobody should drive a vehicle or occupy the driver’s seat of a vehicle if the engine is running while there is "any concentration of alcohol in any specimen of blood taken from any part of his or her body".

Mbalula said directives for public transport under level 2 included 100% capacity for taxis travelling less than 200km, or 70% for those traveling further than that.

Interprovincial travel is permitted, along with domestic air travel.

International air travel will remain prohibited until there is enough evidence to prove that it is “safe” to resume.