Following the renewal of the historic multilateral agreement between MVA Funds from Swaziland, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia in June this year, the Sincephetelo Motor Vehicles Accidents Fund (SMVAF) hosted the first Road Safety Partners joint operations at the Ngwenya MR3 highway last Thursday.
Launched by the Minister of Public Works and Transport, who was represented by Minister of Natural Resources Jabulile Mashwama, the joint operation comprised of stakeholders ranging from the Road Accident Fund (South African version of Sincephetelo), Swaziland Road Safety Council, Royal Swaziland Police and EMS (Emergency Medical Services), amongst others.
Addressing the gathering when officially declaring the operation open, Minister Mashwama said that the aim of the joint operation was to implement cross border collaboration amongst the custodians of road safety best practises in our respective countries, with the ultimate goal being to promote impervious road safety initiatives amongst these nations.
She highlighted that although governments were responsible for the construction and development of road networks at national level; the safety of all those individuals utilising those roads lied not on the government of the day, but on the end user using the road at that very particular time.
She said it was therefore of vital importance that we constantly provided knowledge and understanding of the causes and consequences of road accidents to road users; and the effects they had on economies and families; whilst also conveying meticulous information and strategies that can help curb unbecoming road behaviour.
“As you all know, last month the country hosted the SADC Summit, where visiting Heads of States and Council Ministers deliberated on identifying new approaches to enhance our region, and I am elated with the cooperation exemplified by the Sincephetelo MVA Fund and the Road Accident Fund together with their stakeholders in promoting road safety.
The potential benefits of such mutual relationships include wider geographical reach or access to new beneficiary groups; financial savings and better use of existing resources; knowledge, good practice and information sharing; sharing the risk in new and untested projects; better coordination of organisation’s activities and a providing for a stronger, united voice, amongst others; of which I urge other sister organisations in the region to emulate,” she said.
SMVAF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Helmon Vilakati informed the Minister about the resolution taken during the renewal signing of the multilateral agreement, saying that it stemmed from a quest to collaborate between the four countries whilst trying to provide assistance and information sharing to the people.
“Honourable Minister, because our core business involves compensating victims of road accidents, we have seen it imperative to tackle the bull by the horn and directly reach out to raod users through such initiatives, in order to sensitise and try to minimise raod accidents,” he said.
Vilakati added that the Fund would also engage neighbouring countries such as Mozambique to ensure that road safety awareness was executed across the region to benefit all road users.
Swaziland hosted the first two days at Ngwenya/Pigg’s Peak off ramp, before proceeding to South Africa where the operations were staged first at the Redhill junction just passed the Oshoek border, and then the Badplaas junction the next day.
On average, about 100 vehicles were stopped daily during the 3 hour daily operation, which included private cars, public transport vehicles and cargo carriers as well.
With the new mandatory South African car seat law (enacted 30 April) that compels all children under the age of three years to be strapped in a car seat when travelling, the Road Accident Fund has taken proactive measures to ensure that this law is upheld by providing these seats to deserving candidates free of charge.
Six lucky motorists were fortunate to receive car seats for their infants courtesy of RAF during the cross border road safety joint operations activations that were held in the country and South Africa last week.
RAF Chief Strategy Officer Mantiti Kola said that as their organisation was responsible for road safety on South African roads, it was up to them as an agency to reduce child related accidents through promoting the new child seat law.
“Many motorists are still not aware of this law which can get you in trouble with traffic law enforcers, so we are merely assisting in sensitising the public on this new law and in the process trying to save the lives of infant children by promoting the use of car seats for infants,” she said.
Reg. 213 – (6A) The driver of a motor vehicle operated on a public road shall ensure that an infant travelling in such a motor vehicle is seated on an appropriate child restraint: Provided that this provision shall not apply in a case of a minibus, minibus or bus operating for reward.