By Chamu Wilson –
Mangaung Executive Mayor, Olly Mlamleli, on Tuesday (07 Aug) led a candlelight prayer session aimed at seeking divine intervention for the reduction of road carnage on the N8 highway that links Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu.
The prayer session, which was attended by religious leaders from various denominations, was held next to the notorious N8, at the Botshabelo West intersection.
“We have seen so many lives being lost through accidents on this highway over the years. Several campaigns have been undertaken to bring awareness to drivers but we still continue to witness high accident figures. This is why we then decided to come together with religious leaders to hold this prayer session,” explained Mlamleli.
The event kicked off with a march from Siwelele Fruit and Vegetable Market in Botshabelo West where the crowd, the bulk of which were women, also raised issues of gender-based violence against women in line with the Women’s Month.
According to the mayor, another session with traditional leaders is expected to be held in the near future as the local authority seeks to exhaust all avenues that might lead to the reduction of loss of lives on the highway.
“We intend to come back here again, this time to burn impepo and ask the ancestors to intervene in this crisis. We understand our people have different beliefs and therefore, we will not leave any sector of society out of these efforts.”
The N8 highway has transformed itself into something of a death-trap with several horrific accidents over the years. The road acts as a link between the dormitory towns of Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu with Bloemfontein, something that sees several people commuting to and from the Free State provincial capital every day.
Mlamleli also took time to urge drivers and other road users on the N8 to observe road regulations and refrain from driving under the influence of alcohol as this is one of the major contributors to the carnage on that highway.
In the past, calls were made for the establishment of a commuter train between the three towns but Mlamleli said this matter is beyond the jurisdiction of the local authority.
“As a municipality, it is not our mandate to establish the train service. This is Transnet’s responsibility so we cannot do anything about this project. We can only hope that it happens soon so that pressure is eased on the N8,” she said.
The issue of the commuter train has been opposed by taxi operators who ply that route who believe the development would spell doom for the viability of their business.