KwaZulu-Natal is Training Ground for the Nation, says Ndebele
It is not a mistake that KwaZulu Natal is training ground for
South Africa, especially in transport, said KZN Minister S’bu Ndebele.
Ndebele – whose distinguished caliber as a leader of
government business and politician is praised - told delegates that attended the
country’s fifth driver of the year competitions that the fact that the Zulu
word, KwaZulu, means heaven, and that the word Natal means birth,
was enough justification for the province to keep up its status of being bacon
light for other provinces and indeed the whole of South Africa.
Mr Ndebele pointed out that a number of people who were
groomed at the Department of Transport in KwaZulu Natal are now in top strategic
positions in other provinces as well as the national Department of Transport.
Ndebele’s renowned programmes, which get started in this
province and are adopted by other provinces and national government, have earned
him the respect and acknowledgement that he deserves.
The minister congratulated organizers and participants for a
job well done, especially for the inclusion of women in this new non-sexist
South Africa, and ensuring that all provinces took part.
He said: "I was supposed to celebrate my birthday in
peace, but I ended up being sad because I was regretting the passing of so many
lives. For the past month, driving has earned a very bad and atrocious
reputation. It started with 7 journalists in Gauteng returning from the
Masakhane Games – speed was the problem.
"Again 14 people died in Potgieter Street in a collision
involving a taxi. As though that was not enough, 18 people were killed when a
truck veered off the road in Tugela Ferry, closely followed by the Mount Freer
bus inferno, which claimed the lives of 38 people. Enough is enough,"
Mr Ndebele said that the competition is not a destination but
a journey towards the creation of a road safety society. He explained:
"When we talk of the number of people who die in road accidents, we are not
just talking about statistics. It is human beings. They are somebody’s
brother, and they are somebody’s husband, daughter, wife, aunt or uncle."
"When we started the Siyabakhumbulu (We Remember
Them) programme, we were heartened by the support we received from the religious
community, the artists, the independent media and everybody identified with that
programme," he recalled.
Mr Ndebele said the Siyabakhumbula programme has been
revived and taken the form of inter-faith summits for road safety to unite
religious leaders to pray for the reduction of road accidents.
The minister referred to the taxi driver development
programme his Department had started, with its emphasis on customer care,
business skills, dispute resolution, professional driving and defensive driving.
He pointed out: "Farm workers who drive tractors have
been most neglected - we are talking about the kind of drivers who might have 15
to 20 years of experience driving without a license. The Road Traffic
Inspectorate will take them through a learner driving programme. They will do
learners and a driver’s license test."
Mr Ndebele warned that "all this will be nothing if the
drivers themselves don’t care. If the thriving for perfection is not an urge
for all of us, then there will always be problems. You don’t want someone who
doesn’t want to strive for excellence.
Referring to those who took part in the competition, Mr
Ndebele pointed out: "People here took their licenses 15 to 20 years ago,
but in putting themselves to the test by taking part in the contest, they are
effectively making a statement that says they still want to be even better
He added: "This is good for business and for their
personal fulfillment. The mere entrance in the contest means that they have
confidence in their driving skills. Confidence is crucial for success in any
Mr Ndebele said that those who failed their driver tests
often failed not because of the lack of skill, but because of the lack of
confidence. The contest focuses on heavy vehicles because statistics prove that
it is these types of vehicles that are involved in collisions, he said.