Letter to the Editor
I have read your FleetWatch Road Safety Report edition with interest, particularly the ‘Open Letter to the President’ and Rob Fisher’s ‘Suggestions to Parliament’. My party, the Congress of the People (COPE) and I share your concerns and the views expressed.
Our transportation sector has played a pivotal role in the development of South Africa over many centuries. Were it not for the need for a ‘Ship-Stop’ in the trade (and transportation) route between Europe and Asia, the Dutch East India Company would in all probability never have landed and established a settlement in the Cape of Good Hope. The Great Trek (a transportation feat of note globally) opened up our hinterland, leading to new opportunities and development beyond the Cape.
The fact is that our transportation sector has been vital to our socio-economic development and will continue to do so. It represents our arteries and veins through which the means of production, goods and services (including social services) are delivered and distributed.
They say that the health of our economy can be determined by the number of trucks passing through the Mooi River Toll gates. The fact is that if our transportation sector faces constraints or threats, so too will our socio-economic well-being and development as a Nation.
It’s with the above in mind that the Congress of the People took a conscious decision to stand in solidarity with those involved in the transportation sector and to advocate where possible on your (the industry’s) behalf on matters affecting you and the sector as a whole.
Parliament (the National Assembly in particular) is elected ‘to represent the people and to ensure government by the People under the Constitution’. It does this in part by ‘providing a national forum for the public consideration of issues affecting our nation’ – including transportation issues.
The Constitution requires of Parliament to ensure and facilitate the involvement of the public in its processes and deliberations and to conduct its business in an open manner.
The point I’m trying to make is that the transportation sector as a whole and the various interest groups within the sector have a right to be heard and to make representations and to petition Parliament on matters affecting your sector. Maybe the time has come where this sector needs to become more activist in its approach:
- Keep a watch of matters coming before Parliament (particularly the Portfolio Committee on Transport) that may affect your sector and make sure that you submit comments and representations thereon – and ask for an audience thereon;
- Delegate representatives of your various interest groups to attend meetings of the Portfolio Committee – to hold a watching brief;
- Don’t forget about other Portfolio’s that affect transportation such as Safety and Security; and Home Affairs, Finance and Trade and Industry (when it comes to cross-border transportation);
- Petition Parliament on matters affecting your sector;
- Encourage Portfolio Committees to do oversight visits to failing road infrastructure, unsafe Truck Stops, and our borders where inordinate delays are experienced;
- Arrange demonstrations outside Parliament and hand over petitions to Ministers, the Chairperson of Portfolio Committees, and the Leaders of Parties; and
- Refer matters affecting your sector to our various political parties and hold them to account should they not take them up – name and shame them!
In COPE’s view we need to return to a state where power is returned to our citizenry. We need to ensure a return to ‘Government by the People for the People’. This sector can help us to achieve this by being more activist and assertive – as is evident in your latest edition. And hold us, your public representatives, to account!
Keep up the good work, continue your advocacy and consider the suggestions I have made.
Yours in safety
Deidre Carter, MP
Congress of the People
Editor’s Note: Many thanks for those encouraging words and suggestions. I must point out that despite forwarding the ‘Open Letter to the President’ which was featured in the same edition (Click here to read) and personally speaking at the time to the President’s Spokesperson through which the letter was channelled, FleetWatch has to date received no reply from the Office of the President – not even an acknowledgement of receipt of the letter – never mind telling me that I’m talking rubbish and should go take a hike or whatever. It is also interesting to note that the suggestions and questions put forward to Parliament last year by Rob Fisher, a former professional truck driver who heads up Truckers Voice and is an affiliated provincial member of COPE, as outlined in the same edition, also received no reply despite, as he says, the fact that Parliament is compelled by law to do so. (Click here to read). FleetWatch has often stated that the trucking sector is a Cinderella in the eyes of the Government. Seems we are right! Whoever gets to hold the seat after the May 8th elections must not be allowed to get away with such blatant disregard of this vital sector. Click here to see how many companies supported our call for Road Safety to become a top Priority in South Africa – and yet still no response. Deidre Carter is correct. The industry must become more activist in its future approach to Government. FleetWatch will certainly up the stakes – that’s for sure!