Why the R40 Mpumalanga highway could be named SA's most dangerous road for travellers

Apart from Easter weekend, the festive season is undoubtedly the year's busiest time on the road. 

On 26 November 2019, the Department of Tourism issued a statement addressing figures released on Tourism and Migration, as released by Statistics SA. The Minister of Tourism, Mamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane responded to the decline in tourist arrivals, ie -2.1% (-164 989) down for the period of January to September 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. 

"The major impact on the numbers has been the concerns around safety and security of the tourist in our country. We will at the beginning of December jointly with our stakeholders announce our Tourism Safety Strategy and the implementation plans as a response to the concerns raised by our key markets." 

READ: The worst dates to hit the road this December holiday

We asked Twitter whether they are planning to hit the road this festive season. Many said no "No, it's too busy", however for most it seems pretty inevitable: 

But which road, above all, should one try to avoid this festive season? Tourism Update reports that Minister Kubayi-Ngubane particularly raises safety concerns with regards to driving the R40 in Mpumalanga. Like some parts of Table Mountain National Park, which was earlier this year identified as a crime hotspot by the Minister, she highlighted the R40 highway as a crime hotspot - particularly during the festive season because it'll be busier than ever. 

READ: Driving from Durban to the Midlands, beautiful but also terrifying

READ: Cape Town makes it onto a 'no go' travel list, but it's not about tourists' safety

A popular tourism route for safari visitors, be those local or international travellers, it has been plagued with safety issue over the last few years. But as we wait for the safety briefing ahead of season on how to address tourism safety and security in SA's crime hotspots, here's just a few factors that have rendered this highway so dangerous and unsafe: 

  • Last year, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) named the R40 stretch between Hazyview and Hoedspruit the 11th most dangerous road in SA. 
  • Ongoing protests plague the area, resulting in road closures, burning tires, etc.
  • Hitchhikers have been targeted in the area - especially by the turnoff to the University of Mpumalanga.
  • Nelspruit was ranked 2nd highest precinct in Mpumalanga in 2019 for crime, according to Crime Stats SA - with a whopping 6 762 reported cases on the books. Many of these crimes were committed around the R40 highway, which runs through the city. 

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