Pupils’ protest calls for safer roads

Oaklands High pupils joined a peaceful protest, on the corner of Chukker and Race Course roads in Lansdowne, last week to raise road-safety awareness.

Pupils from a Lansdowne high school did their bit last Friday to help make the streets a little safer for children, the elderly and other vulnerable road users.

About 70 pupils from Oaklands High joined South Africans Against Drunk Driving (Sadd), a non-profit organisation, in a peaceful protest, on the corner of Chukker and Race Course roads, to raise road-safety awareness.

“Don’t text and drive”, “Orange light means slow down”, “School kids crossing”, said the young protesters’ placards.

The protest coincided with the UN Global Road Safety week, from Monday May 15 to Sunday May 21.

The theme for this year’s campaign is “streets for life”.

“We want to take back the streets so that it is safe to use for pedestrians, that cyclists can be safe, so that people can run safely,” said Sadd’s founder, Caro Smit.

She said she had joined the protest after learning that two pupils from the school had died after being hit by cars while trying to cross Race Course Road.

“As part of our organisation we do advocacy, we research the infrastructure, and we notice that the traffic lights change very fast at Race Course Road,” she said.

She wants to see speed limits around schools drop to 30km/h.

“If someone is hit at 30km/h, the chances of them surviving is 90%, and if they get hit at 60km/h, the chances of them surviving is 10%.”

Oaklands High principal Mahir Jeffery said two of his Grade 8 pupils had died crossing the busy Race Course Road leading into Chukker Road – one in 2018 and another last year.

“What we found in both instances was that the motorists were speeding and did not see the pupils clearly who were crossing the road.“

He added: “This peaceful protest will not only provide education to the pupils, though it’s also to raise awareness to drivers that they must see our pupils when they are crossing the streets.”

Ward councillor Mark Kleinschmidt urged the City to add more traffic-calming measures in the area to prevent further loss of life.

“How many more pupils must we lose?” he said.

Mayoral committee member for urban mobility Rob Quintas said public transport and emergency vehicles used Chukker Road, which supported a wider road network.

“Traffic volumes are high on this road, and there is a yield pedestrian crossing adjacent to the school entrance, which is 72 metres from a traffic-signal intersection.”

A raised pedestrian crossing would create delays, and, considering the high activity along Chukker Road, there was a likelihood that queueing would impede traffic flow on Turfhall Road, he said.

Schools could log requests for traffic-calming measures with their local sub-council, he said.

“The City will investigate the request. If the request is supported from a technical perspective, the public will be invited to give comments on the proposed measures.”

Oaklands High matric pupils, from left, Ayanda Mbotshelwa, Zandile Nceta and Sonwabise Nyanda do their bit to promote road-safety awareness.
Standing in solidarity at the peaceful protest, from left, are Oaklands High pupil Gabriel Bamuzenga, Life Choices counsellor Sarah Dowling, Sadd founder Caro Smit, pupil Linamandla Mboniswa, principal Mahir Jeffery, pupil Chuma Mbaba and ward councillor Mark Kleinschmidt.
Oaklands High pupils, from left, Thaziyah Jappie, Nasiyah Jappie, Ameer Hendricks and Therese Rispel.