South African Vehicle Safety Debate Rages On
A recent study by South Africa's National Vehicle Testing Association (NVTA) concluded that 80 percent of the country's 8,544,902 registered vehicles are unsafe. The assertion has touched-off a national debate. iAfrica reports that the government rejects the notion outright. "The Transport Department Spokesperson Collen Msibi stopped short of denying that there were any unsafe vehicles on the roads. 'We've got institutions, such as the SAPS [the police], responsible for ensuring that cars on our roads are safe.'" As for reports of widespread corruption at government inspection stations, Msibi said the Justice Ministry was dealing. Be that as it may, NVTA spokesperson Wally Cracknell said the percentage of unsafe vehicles is probably higher than 80 percent. Their study was based on 1000 vehicles voluntarily submitted for inspection. "A lot of the vehicles that come to us for roadworthy tests fail outright. Adding minibus taxis and heavy commercial vehicles would blow the statistics 'right out of the water.'" Other evidence from the front line substantiates the claim. "The owner of Johannesburg-based Egoli Testing Station, Johan de Beer, said they tested between 55 and 60 privately-owned cars and trucks each day, with half failing on safety-crucial points like brakes, steering, tyres and shock absorbers." With world's worst automotive safety record (after Botswana), the South African government's unwillingness to tackle road safety on all fronts– licensing, inspection and enforcement– will continue to cost tens of thousands of motorists and innocent bystanders their lives.