GEORGE NEWS - When it starts raining in George it normally doesn't take very long before you hear the sirens of emergency vehicles rushing towards the Outeniqua Pass.
Not only has the number of accidents on the pass become a hot topic on social media, it has also become a massive concern to local and visiting motorists.
Year after year the George Herald reports on multiple accidents in the pass, some fatal and others not serious at all.
However, the seriousness or not of the accidents shouldn't dim the fact that the Outeniqua Pass is dangerous when wet. Whether the culprit is speeding, a slippery road or motorists' general driving ability - or lack thereof - something needs to be done before it is too late.
According to ER24 Southern Cape branch manager, Charl Pretorius, they respond to between six and eight call-outs to the pass every month. "People either try to cut the corners and then go into oncoming traffic, or they lose control around the bends. This happens on the dry or wet road, but even more so when the road is wet," he said.
Since the start of December 2019 there have been 13 vehicle accidents on the pass. Most of them took place when the road was wet. Last weekend, from Friday to Sunday, 17 to 19 January, there were seven accidents on this road. Two took place on Friday, three on Saturday and two more on Sunday. All of them occurred due to drivers losing control of their vehicles on the wet road.
Although some Georgians are of the opinion that speeding is at the root of all the accidents on the pass, some say diesel spilled by trucks cause motorists to lose control of their vehicles while others recon that the tow truck services deliberately pour oil on the road to make it slippery.
According to the Western Cape spokesperson for the Department of Transport and Public Works, Jandré Bakker, the municipality has to apply for speed cameras to be put up. The department also confirmed that, as far as they are concerned, there is nothing wrong with the road surface.
"The Outeniqua Pass (George to Waboomskraal) was resurfaced in 2014/15 and periodic maintenance should be limited unless there is an incident which warrants it. Our inspections have not shown evidence of alleged oil on the road surface," Bakker said.
George municipal Director of Protection Services Steven Erasmus said that the bendy nature of the Outeniqua Pass does not allow for long enough stretches of straight road to use current speed camera technology for law-enforcement purposes.
"The George Municipality will, in consultation with the road authority for the pass, the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works, investigate speed calming measures and alternative speed law enforcement such as the speed over distance cameras used by provincial authorities," he said.
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