As the holiday season draws near, the Newcastle Municipality officially kicked off October Transport Month on Thursday, 5 October 2023. This initiative aims to raise awareness about road safety and encourage responsible driving practices.
In a departure from the usual location, the Newcastle Municipality chose Asiphephe Drive, the road connecting Newcastle and Madadeni, as the venue for this year’s programme, deviating from the customary intersection of N11 and Allen Street.
The significance of October Transport Month lies in its remembrance of a tragic bus crash that occurred in April 1998 on this very road. The collision involved a bus carrying around 50 passengers and claimed the lives of over 30 individuals, predominately children, leaving a lasting scar on both the Newcastle and Madadeni communities.
The commemorative event held on Thursday aimed to honour the victims of the 1998 tragedy and extend support to their families. It sought to underscore the importance of road safety, urging motorists to exercise caution and adhere to traffic regulations.
Newcastle Municipality Mayor, Xolani Dube, highlighted the unique emphasis of October Transport Month 2023 – not only to promote road safety but also to commemorate the lives lost, particularly the children on the local roads. Mayor Dube said underscored the profound impact of road accidents on society, referencing recent fatal incidents in September and October 2023.
“We are encouraging motorists to adhere to the road laws, as collisions can be avoided if we prioritise road safety,” noted the Mayor.
When looking at the horrific bus accident that took place in 1998, Cllr Dube said, “Road safety is everyone’s responsibility, as to ensure this type of tragedy does not happen again.”
Moreover, Municipal Manager Zamani Mcinecka acknowledged the challenge of controlling road users’ behaviour but stressed the importance of fostering a shift in mindsets. He further encouraged collaboration with law enforcement to prevent additional loss of life.
Lastly, the Municipality paid heartfelt tribute through a memorial service at the statue along Asiphephe Drive, where law enforcement, paramedics, security personnel, and families of the 1998 tragedy victims congregated. A multidisciplinary law enforcement roadblock followed, with various agencies working in unison to ensure compliance with traffic laws.
Traffic officials pledged heightened vigilance in the coming months, promising strict enforcement against violators.
With all this in mind, the community is encouraged to share their opinions on this initiative in the comment section below.