Driving to Polokwane on Sunday morning, I saw something that is commonplace on Limpopo’s roads, in fact it’s the norm. I was overtaken on a blind rise with a double barrier line by a gunmetal VW Golf, registration number 333 BEE L.
Cynical irritation! Does BEE mean you own the roads? Does 333 mean you didn’t quite crack it and with a 777 you’d be driving an Audi, BMW, Merc or Range Rover? Limpopo drivers have killed these brands for me! If I wanted to protect my brand, I’d start qualifying those I sell to because Limpopo drivers are certainly not brand ambassadors.
Driving on, I wondered how long my luck would last. Rural Limpopo has amongst the worst accident statistics anywhere.
I didn’t have to wait long. Further along the non-toll R101, I came across a number of cars pulled over with people crossing the road to look down on the N1 which runs alongside at that point. Obviously an accident and I had to wonder if it was 333 BEE L that had caused it. (I learnt later it was a head-on collision between a petrol tanker and a vehicle, with fatalities.)
A little further on, traffic came to an almost-grinding halt. Vehicles were being diverted onto the R101 from the N1 and the three traffic cops on point duty would have done the keystone cops proud. One (an urgent candidate for government’s weight reduction programme for law enforcement officials) was chatting to a driver at the head of the oncoming queue. The second was trying to get the chatting driver to move on while a third was trying to get another queue to take the gap. Traffic was now at a standstill!
But it was to get worse… much worse. By now, the N1 was being diverted where it leaves Polokwane and I experienced my first taste of Limpopo chaos and anarchy. My route to Polokwane no longer existed. All traffic lanes in both directions were occupied by vehicles leaving Polokwane. And that wasn’t enough — they created several additional lanes in the verges. And these were not only cars and bakkies joining the new lanes, buses filled with passengers were taking the rough-terrain route too.
Those heading to Polokwane were forced to bundu-bash… on the far side of the road signs alongside the edge of the road reserve.
Provincial traffic officers looked on helplessly… these are road manners, Limpopo-style.
There is no patrolling
& policing of moving
violations in Limpopo.
This just demonstrates the Western view of a dysfunctional, lawless Africa. And in this case, it all starts with the Limpopo Traffic Department not doing its job. You will almost never see provincial cops patrolling for moving violations. You’ll be stopped frequently for your driver’s licence and you’ll see no end of speed traps, often manned by ten or more officers.
That’s not the solution to solving the traffic carnage in Limpopo. En route from Johannesburg a week ago on the N1, I noticed a black car approaching from behind very, very fast – way over the speed limit. It suddenly slowed down as it got alongside me and I noticed the blackened windows and the flashing blue light on the dashboard on the FS-registered E Class black Mercedes.
And there was the speed trap! Once we passed it, the Mercedes disappeared into the distance in no time, way, way above the speed limit. One must wonder, was that a standard speed trap location or are government officials and politicians advised of their locations?
Repeatedly in these travels, it’s been traffic violations by provincial officials (especially in Health & Social Welfare vehicles) and politicians that stand out. They forget that the law applies to them too and they should be setting the example.
How can Limpopo Tourism promote their province when their roads are so dangerous?
What can be done? The buck stops at the Provincial Traffic Chief. Is he doing his job? The carnage on his roads is his responsibility. If he ignores that responsibility, he is party to the homicide that occurs on his roads and should be charged for that crime.
A complaint against the Limpopo Provincial Traffic Department (ref 3400778) has been lodged on the Presidential Hotline.