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WESTERN Cape transport and public works MEC Robin Carlisle, Metrorail and road safety technology experts Syntell yesterday jointly launched a level-crossing closed circuit television (CCTV) camera system in a bid to reduce lawlessness at level crossings in the Cape Town metropolitan.
Carlisle, department officials and Syntell and Metrorail regional manager Mthuthuzeli Swartz attended the launch at the White Road level crossing in Retreat, Cape Town.
Carlisle said the city's traffic services were already busy analysing the latest footage to start prosecuting the first offenders.
He said these first offenders would soon receive summonses under the new system.
"Offenders will face stiff fines, starting at R500 for failure to stop.
Many face arrest and charges of reckless and negligent driving in more serious cases, for example, if the booms are ignored," he said.
Carlisle said that the project was the first of its kind in the country.
"We aim to roll out the project to more crossings in the city and province as soon as sufficient data is obtained to prove their efficacy in curbing recklessness," he said.
Carlisle said Hector Eliott, head of the department, led the task team that established the project.
He added that the department was confident that the project would be a success.
Swartz said the number of accidents at level crossings in the Mother City had been reduced by at least 40%.
He said 10 accidents were recorded in 2010 compared with six last year.
"Though we are pleased with the reduction, one incident is still one too many. Ideally, we aspire to an accident-free year," he said.
Swartz ascribed the reduction in the accident rate to a multi-disciplinary approach and strong support from key stakeholders.
The initiative had proven that South Africa was not unique in its quest to safeguard level crossings against errant drivers, he said.
Swartz explained that Metrorail and other stakeholders had adopted a holistic approach in dealing with safety at level crossings.
"We have assessed all level crossings in the region and have also applied to the City of Cape Town to close some of them," he said.
Swartz also thanked Carlisle for his support in highlighting the behaviour of dangerous drivers in the city and province.
Train drivers have been instructed to travel at all times with their lights on bright. Drivers have also been instructed to sound their sirens when approach level crossings. Swartz lauded the department for issuing the first summons for reckless drivers.
He said this would convince drivers to approach level crossings with the utmost care.