What you need to know
about the amendment of Regulation 250 of the National Road Traffic Regulations.
On 11 May 2017, it will become specifically illegal to
transport school children for reward
in the goods compartment of any vehicle. Many people, including but not limited
to the Minister and spokespersons for the Department of Transport have lauded this
as being a giant stride in the right direction for road safety. I completely disagree
and here’s why:
Ever since the promulgation of the National Road Traffic
Regulations in 2000, Regulation 250 has prescribed that:
“No person shall on a
public road carry any person for reward in the goods compartment of
a motor vehicle”.
Just so it is clear, the “goods compartment of a vehicle” is
any compartment which is specifically designed for the conveyance of things
other than passengers. In typical application, this would mean “on the back of
bakkies and other goods vehicles”, but it could also mean in the boot of a car,
hatchback or minibus.
The amendment to Regulation 250 which comes into effect on
11 May 2017 now prescribes as follows:
person shall on a public road convey
school children in the goods compartment of a motor vehicle for reward.
person shall convey any other person
in the goods compartment of a motor vehicle for reward: Provided that the provisions of this
subregulation shall not apply in
respect of a vehicle which complies with the provisions of the NLTA.”
It should be clear to anyone with even the faintest
understanding of the English language that this amendment does not represent a “tightening”
of legislation regarding the transportation of persons of any age on the back
of bakkies and other goods vehicles, but rather represents a significant relaxation thereof.
Simply put, it has previously been illegal to transport anyone at all for reward in the goods
compartment of a vehicle – but from 11 May 2017 it will be illegal to transport
school children and/or any other people in the goods compartment of a vehicle
unless, in the latter instance, the transport operator has applied and paid for
a permit to do so in compliance with the National Land Transport Act.
Unfortunately, there is a significant volume of
misinformation which has accompanied this regulatory amendment and it is
important to note that apart from what is prescribed in regulation 250 above and
in Regulation 247, which contemplates the circumstances under which persons may be transported in the goods compartment
of a vehicle there, is no other regulatory framework which deals with the
transportation of people in the back of bakkies in place.
Specifically, there exists no limitation whatsoever on the number of persons that may be transported
in the goods compartment of a vehicle; provided that all passengers in the
goods compartment comply with the provisions of Regulation 247, and that the
gross vehicle mass of the vehicle is not exceeded (overloaded). Nor is there
any requirement for a canopy to be present.
Regulation 247 prescribes as follows:
“No person shall
operate on a public road a goods vehicle conveying persons unless that portion
of the vehicle in which such persons are being conveyed is enclosed to a height
least 350 millimetres above the surface upon which such person is seated; or
least 900 millimetres above the surface on which such person is standing, in a
manner and with a material of sufficient strength to prevent such person from
falling from such vehicle when it is in motion
Provided that no
person shall be conveyed in the goods compartment together with any tools or
goods, except their personal effects, unless that portion in which such persons
are being conveyed is separated by means of a partition, from the portion in
which such goods are being conveyed.”
It is important to note that the requirement for people to
be seated at least 350mm below the
sides and tailgate of a bakkie is a minimum
and it is illegal for such persons to stand or be seated above this line. If
they are standing, then the sides and rear must be at least 900mm high.
All too often one sees people standing on the back of
bakkies and/or sitting on top of the sidewalls of bakkies, or on top of other
stuff in the back of a bakkie (like furniture, sand, etc.). This practice is completely unlawful and yet it is
The fitment of a canopy which merely serves to shield such
persons from the elements is not prescribed anywhere in the National Road
Traffic Act or its Regulations and doing so would be frivolous, given the fact
that canopies offer absolutely no road safety benefit to passengers apart from
ensuring that they don’t fall out in the normal operation of that vehicle.
Now, coming back to the prohibition of transportation of
persons for reward in the goods
compartment of vehicles, it is important to note that the term “for reward”,
whilst not defined in the National Road Traffic Act means “where a fee is charged” for that service.
A company transporting its own workers/employees in the
goods compartment of a vehicle cannot be reasonably defined as doing so for
reward, even if that company is transporting such workers/employees to/from a
site other than their own business premises, provided that the company
concerned does not charge such workers/employees a fee for that transportation.
Similarly, if a parent decides to assist other parents by
ferrying their children to and from school, a sports event, or similar outing
and does so without soliciting/accepting
any payment therefor, then school children may be conveyed on the back of a bakkie.
This said, just because one is not prohibited from doing
extremely dangerous things, doesn’t mean that one should do them.
It has long been the assertion of Justice Project South
Africa that the transportation of anyone
in the goods compartment of any vehicle should be prohibited entirely, whether a fee therefor is charged or not.
The goods compartment of any vehicle – regardless of whether
it is a motor car, a bakkie or a truck is not designed for the transportation
of people and typically such compartments have none of the safety features
which are incorporated in the passenger cabin of such vehicles.
There exists no seats, no seatbelts, no airbags, no crumple-zones,
no side-impact protection, no nothing
in the goods compartment of bakkies and even where seats are fitted as an
aftermarket accessory, these seats or benches are fitted to provide a little
more comfort; not to enhance the safety of passengers in the event of a
In the event of a collision, those who are being transported
in the goods compartment of such vehicles are typically ejected from that
vehicle and suffer significantly more severe injuries than those who are in the
passenger cabin of the vehicle.
If the Department of Transport is serious about road safety,
reducing the carnage on our roads, then it will ban the transportation of
people on the back of bakkies entirely and prevail on SARS to extend the VAT
refunds which may be claimed on commercial vehicles to double-cabs and minibuses.
Doing so would undoubtedly cause an uproar amongst some, but
South Africans will do what they are renowned for doing and will adapt. After all,
saving lives and preventing injury should be the first priority.
Issuing permits for transport operators to legally transport
persons in the goods compartment of vehicles for reward represents little more
than a further regulatory, money-making racket on the part of the Department of
Transport and should be seen for what it is.
Justice Project South Africa