SA motorists cannot escape New Year roadblocks

Posted On December 29, 2006

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Police have warned New Year’s Eve revellers that roadblocks in Durban will be unavoidable this festive weekend.

At least 20 roadblocks will be set up in the city and surrounding areas, with traffic officials out in full force. In a joint operation between the South African Police Service, Metro Police and the Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI), the rest of the province will also be under heavy patrol.

RTI spokesperson Rajen Chinaboo issued a stern warning to drivers that drunken and reckless driving, and the playing of loud music will not be tolerated. He said the province will be heavily policed with the main focus on Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Pinetown and Port Shepstone.

Chinaboo said about 600 extra traffic officials will be on duty from Sunday. “Those playing loud music and people hanging out of taxis will also face penalties. People must act responsibly. We will enforce the law,” he said.

Metro police spokesperson, Superintendent Alec Wright said about 1 100 officers had been deployed to patrol the city and the beaches. “Don’t drink and drive. People must be reasonable and responsible,” was his message ahead of the New Year celebrations.

Emergency services will also be on high alert, with added manpower and resources. ER24’s Neil Noble said two more advanced life support units and six ambulances had been made available. Drunken driving, said Noble, was the major contributing factor in car accidents. “If we suspect a driver is drunk, we will call in the police. We have breathalysers in our vehicles and will test people and forward the evidence to the police,” he said.

Leon Mbangwa, spokesperson for the provincial health department, said there would be ambulances at strategic points and 84 paramedics had been deployed throughout the province since the beginning of the year. Mbangwa said high risk areas have been targeted and ambulances would be stationed along major routes to the city. “There will also be ambulances every 150m along the national routes. Ambulances have also been stationed at all beaches in case of emergency.”

For many Durbanites there is probably no better way to see in the New Year than viewing a spectacle of fireworks. Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World on Battery Beach will hold a fireworks display to mark the end of 2006, starting at 11.30pm.

Meanwhile, police have sent out warnings that fireworks and alcohol will not be allowed on the city’s beaches. Police spokesperson Superintendent Gugu Sabela said last year beach revellers were generally well-behaved and she hoped for the same this weekend.

National police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Vishnu Naidoo said fireworks should be used responsibly. He said this included the strict supervision of children under the age of 16. “By-laws govern the use of fireworks in different metropolitan areas. People must know what these by-laws are, and should be encouraged to take special care when using fireworks around children, the elderly and animals,” he said.