Assessing of community involvement in strengthening road safety strategies within Umhlathuze Municipality.
Moloi, Edith Nompumelelo.
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Road accidents are one of the primary causes of increased deaths in South Africa, more so for the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province, including the uMhlathuze Municipality area. Research shows that South Africa and Nigeria account for more than half of the total number of road fatalities on the continent. This indicates that there is a need for an effective road safety strategy. This study, therefore, investigated community involvement strategies used by the uMhlathuze Municipality working with the Department of Transport to strengthen road safety strategies. The main concern of the study was to establish how the uMhlathuze Municipality and the Department of Transport engage with the communities to be part of road safety awareness and thereby enhance service delivery in this context. Furthcm1orc, the study investigated strategies to involve relevant stakeholders when developing road safety strategies, as well as channels of communication, including the encouragement of community participation in road safety as applied by uMhlathuzc Municipality and the Department of Transport respectively. The study provides insights into stakeholder engagement for road safety within the uMhlathuzc Municipality jurisdiction. The stakeholder engagement in this study advocate for community involvement in road safety strategies. The rationale for community involvement in road safety lies in the identification of local road safety problems and issues that require the participation of the surrounding communities in the development of counter-measures to reduce the incidence of road traffic crashes. The literature of the study highlights the strength of the stakeholders' approach to community involvement for road safety, though it is not simple to manage stakeholders due to differences that might arise. However, the principles that underpin the stakeholder involvement provides the guidelines on various processes that ought lo be adhered to for an effective stakeholder relationship. The study adopted a qualitative approach as a strategy of inquiry, and interviews were conducted using the convenience-sampling technique with the selected municipality officials, selected transport department officials, as well as selected Amakhosi within uMhlathuze Municipality. The findings of the study indicate that there are various ways in which both uMhlathuze Municipality and the Department of Transport engage communities about road safety, although it is not sufficient. Whilst these institutions indicated that they are engaging the communities about road safety matters, such findings could not be confidently collaborated by the Amakhosi. It can be assumed then, that community engagement strategies by both uMhlathuze Municipality and the Department of Transport are not effective to yield the desired results. In this case, more communities would remain excluded from the mainstream information about road safety. This further gives an indication that communities do not have a role to play as such when it comes to matters of road safety. According to the research, the value of community involvement in programmes that affect them is that they take ownership of such programmes. The same can be said, about community involvement in the road safety strategy within the uMhlathuze Municipality's tactical plans to include them in matters that concern their well-being.