EASTERN Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela was reduced to tears on Saturday during the mass funeral of 22 people killed two weeks ago when a bus they were travelling in plunged down a ravine near Cedarville.
Balindlela pledged to work hand in hand with the Transport Department in order to speed up the process of road maintenance and construction.
South African Democratic Teachers’ Union secretary-general Thulas Nxesi used the funeral to launch a scathing attack on government departments for their failure in service delivery.
Nxesi spoke at length about the state of Eastern Cape roads, which claimed 75 lives last month alone.
He said even though most accidents are caused by faulty or unroadworthy vehicles, the state of rural roads is very bad.
“It is not only roads, our rural schools are also the same,” said Nxesi.
He added that promises to upgrade the Mvenyane road (where the accident happened) were made during the time of the apartheid government, but nothing has happened.
“What happened to our government departments, because funds are available, but they cannot do something … Now they want to act swiftly after many people have died,” said Nxesi.
He also urged the department to administer harsh action against unroadworthy vehicles, to monitor buses and taxis “each and every second”.
Eastern Cape Safety, Liaison, Roads and Transport MEC Thobile Mhlahlo said they are doing their best to get rid of unroadworthy vehicles, as they have introduced more than 171 new buses to transport rural people.
He said one of the reasons that delayed the Mvenyane road upgrade was the boundary issue.
“We are now busy trying to transfer the road to Eastern Cape as there is a portion of the road that is still under KZN,” said Mhlahlo.