On Thursday (SUBS: 11 May), a major regulation governing the transportation of school children comes into force in South Africa. In terms of Regulation 250 of the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA), from Thursday no person will be allowed to transport children in the goods compartment of a vehicle for reward. According to the Automobile Association (AA) this regulation is to be cautiously welcomed.
“The introduction is a step in the right direction insofar as it puts the issue of scholar transport high on the road safety agenda. It also means those business operators who are taking children to school in vehicles which are either unroadworthy, or not designed for person transport (such as bakkies), will need to repair or replace their vehicles,” the AA noted.
However, the Association noted, the regulation places a burden on parents whose only means of transporting their children to school is via these operators, who may, or may not, be in a position to follow the rules.
“Many parents simply don’t have a choice but to use operators whose vehicles are in a poor state. It’s a decision based on giving your child an education or not. For this reason, more reliable, accessible, safe public transport is essential, especially in rural areas, where bakkie transport is more common,” the AA said.
Regulation 250 also prohibits the transport of other persons in the goods compartment of vehicles for reward, unless they are enclosed in a canopy, and are not seated near any goods or tools. This regulation is aimed at improving the safety of passengers on the back of bakkies.
“This, again, is part of the regulation to be welcomed. However, while we believe transporting of passengers in this way is dangerous, and should be banned, it is nonetheless a step in the right direction to improving the safety of those being transported,” the Association said.
The AA also re-iterated a previous message to motorists that Regulation 250 is, in fact, the only regulation coming into force on Thursday.
“There has been a lot of talk, especially on social media, about the reduction of speed limits, the curbing of trucks on public roads at specific times, and how drivers will have to undergo an entire new driving test to renew their licenses. None of this is happening on Thursday. These were proposals contained in earlier documents from the Department of Transport, but none have accepted, or enacted, in any way,” the AA concluded.