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One of the most dysfunctional areas in South Africa is our transport sector.
Our railway network doesn’t function properly; its infrastructure is stolen and destroyed hand over fist. Our roads are full of potholes.
Our motorists get charged tolls to use highways already paid for by their taxes. Thousands of vehicles on our roads are uninsured and unroadworthy, never mind being unlicensed.
The same goes for many of the people behind the wheel: their licences are fake or they have been bought through corruption. The death toll on our roads – through incompetence, recklessness and lawlessness like drunken driving – is not going down and is still one of the highest in the world, comparatively speaking.
So, what does our department of transport decide to do?
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It decides to hold massive roadblocks on the busiest road in the country – the N1 between Johannesburg and Pretoria – on the day most people are back at work and most businesses have resumed operations.
The purpose of this roadblock? A “Back to School Safety Campaign”. Naturally, there was a massive tailback on the highway, resulting in delays for motorists of up to an hour.
And a wastage of millions of rands in fuel while hundreds of engines idled. That is not to mention the productivity cost for the provincial economy of missed meetings or delayed deliveries.
Yet, it was an opportunity for one of our politicians – this time Deputy Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga – to preen in front of the cameras in a pathetic attempt to prove she and her department are providing taxpayers with value for money.
It goes without saying that this circus was not unexpected, given that the transport department is run by Tweeter-in-Chief Fikile Mbalula.
The chaos which ensued on Monday is an apt metaphor for the ANC’s stewardship of South Africa.