Traffic cops 'must do their jobs' and help traffic to flow during blackouts

10 February 2020 - 14:46 By Motoring Reporter
Traffic departments must stop their revenue-boosting roadblocks and get busy directing traffic when roads are congested, says the AA.
Traffic departments must stop their revenue-boosting roadblocks and get busy directing traffic when roads are congested, says the AA.
Image: Chatchai Kritsetsakul / 123rf

Traffic law departments across South Africa which do not make every effort to mitigate the impact of rolling blackouts on traffic congestion, and traffic lawlessness, are not doing their jobs and are failing motorists in the towns and cities they serve.

This is the view of the Automobile Association (AA), which says excuses from traffic departments about a lack of resources can no longer be accepted.

“The rolling blackouts by Eskom are a major blow to South Africa’s already embattled economy. An earlier attempt to exclude peak times for blackouts has been another colossal failure, and is having an enormous negative effect on traffic. It is time traffic law enforcers step up, do their jobs, and provide services to the motoring public to ease this pressure,” the AA says.

The association notes it is increasingly receiving complaints from members about a lack of traffic policing at major intersections during blackouts, and about motorists driving in and blocking emergency lanes to skip queues of vehicles.

“We have consistently reminded motorists to remain calm in the traffic, to obey the rules of the road at all times, and to adjust their attitudes to accommodate unforeseen scenarios. But traffic law enforcers seem to believe it is business as usual for them when it is anything but. Erecting roadblocks or traffic stops to check for expired licence discs to fuel revenue is not an appropriate response. Traffic law enforcement across the country needs to do better,” says the association.

Measures the AA recommends for traffic law enforcement include:

  • Immediately suspending roadblocks and traffic stops targeted at revenue collection which do not help in the free-flow of traffic. Obviously roadblocks targeted at dealing with criminal activities must continue. These should not be confused with those seeking only to check for expired licence discs.
  • Redeploying all available traffic officials to major intersections and routes where congestion is known to be severe as a result of the rolling blackouts, especially at peak times in the mornings and afternoons.
  • Increasing the working hours of traffic law enforcement officials to ensure more people are available when needed.

“It’s been reported that the rolling blackouts could last for up to 18 months. If urgent measures are not put in place as a priority, the country’s fragile economy will be further battered by the current situation.”

The AA says it is disheartened that while ordinary South Africans are struggling to negotiate the current road crisis caused by the rolling blackouts, government seems oblivious to the situation.

“There appears to be a general acceptance that the current road traffic chaos is nothing new, or that it is not worthy of receiving priority attention. We remind government that our country is a vehicle-reliant society and any threat to the free flow of traffic will result in major negative consequences for the economy,” the AA says.