SANRAL CEO Reginald Demana says South African road safety will benefit from lessons shared at World Road Congress in Czech Republic
Pretoria, 8 October 2023 – SANRAL CEO Reginald Demana says South Africa has learnt valuable lessons about road safety and reducing road deaths from countries such as Canada, Ireland and Spain. More than 12 000 people die on South Africa’s roads every year.
Demana says it is clear that SANRAL, which is responsible for maintaining and expanding the national road network and some provincial roads, will need to work with other state agencies to look at programmes to improve roads safety among the youth, particularly with regard to road safety, drinking and driving, pedestrian behaviour, and many other aspects. Education at primary and high schools, policing and the use of technology were key to reducing crashes and deaths on the road.
Young drivers are in the spotlight of policy-makers and law enforcement agencies in many parts of the world to ensure that the risk they pose is reduced, and in so doing reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities.
Speaking at the end of the World Road Congress in Prague, Czech Republic, where 4 300 engineers, policymakers, law enforcement agents and other professionals from 114 countries gathered to share knowledge and experiences, Demana said young people were key to reducing the country’s road fatality rate.
“Some of the lessons we have learned from the Canadians, the Irish and the Spanish, is that they have a focus on youth and that they have special programmes focussing on young drivers,” said Demana.
“In some countries they don’t allow young drivers who don’t have a certain minimum number of years of experience to drive alone. In other countries, they have a limit on
the hours during which youth drivers can be on the road by themselves. Others have a higher limitation on the age when youth can drive. It is clear that in South Africa we need to relook our own dispensation around young drivers and what we can do to enforce regulations and improve compliance with those regulations.”
The South African delegation of roads experts from the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) concluded a week of knowledge sharing and learning at the 27th World Road Congress held from 2 to 6 October 2023 in Prague, Czech Republic.
South Africa, via SANRAL, is one of 125 member countries of PIARC, having access to experts and specialists the world over, for collaboration, research, academic and global industry partnerships and so much more.
“Our first objective was to support the South African Minister of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga, during the congress, particularly in her bilateral meetings with transport ministers from other countries, including the Czech Republic and Mozambique, geared at improved cooperation and mutual learning,” said Demana.
Knowledge sharing, benchmarking against international success stories with regard to road safety, infrastructure development, road maintenance, innovation and sustainable road design were all high on the agenda of the SANRAL leadership and project managers at the World Road Congress.
“Our teams took part in different technical committees, presenting and listening to their peers, and we take all of this knowledge back to South Africa, as well as our neighbouring countries to further advance our technology and innovation,” said Demana.
“We also take away from the Congress major lessons about the impact of climate change on our road infrastructure in South Africa and of course the rest of the world, especially when you consider the destruction we saw in the Western Cape two weeks
ago, and further up the coast in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal in recent years. PIARC, the international road association, has a programme for disaster management following these catastrophic events. As South Africa we need to start incorporating the damage of infrastructure such as roads into disaster management, we need to align ourselves with disaster management centres with our responses and coordinate better so that we are involved with disaster management. The time has come for an integrated approach across different agencies together with disaster management centres.”
Sisanda Dyubele, a strategist at SANRAL’s Head Office, who has since 2019 served on the World Road Association (PIARC) Technical Committee for Road Administrations, contributed significantly to his committee’s work on gender inclusivity and diversity, and was understandably pleased with the “Best Committee” award as voted by his peers.
“Transformation is at the core of how SANRAL does business, from insisting on meaningful transformation of the road construction sector that gives marginalised communities access to economic development opportunities, to prioritising financial support of the African girl child at schools and institutions of higher learning. Gender inclusivity and diversity is therefore a matter that resonates with me not only on a technical level, but more importantly on a patriotic level and in South Africa, we are making slow but impactful progress in this regard,” said Dyubele.
“Over the last week we exchanged ideas and experiences on how to ensure that we provide a safe and reliable road network. South Africa made a meaningful contribution with our initiatives and road engineering expertise. We also had good representation from the various universities where SANRAL funds research, as well as from the concessionaires who manage portions of SANRAL’s network, said Randall Cable, SANRAL’s Western Region Manager who also serves on the Executive Management of PIARC.