No light for metro cops during traffic jams caused by load-shedding

A Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) officer directs traffic in Fourways, Johannesburg, during load-shedding.
A Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) officer directs traffic in Fourways, Johannesburg, during load-shedding.
Image: Antonio Muchave

Thousands of motorists are frustrated by daily traffic jams caused by load-shedding, but Johannesburg metro police say they are doing their best to ease the situation.  

Spokesperson Xolani Fihla said officers direct traffic during peak hours at major intersections.

“There was a directive issued in March last year that our officers need to direct traffic where there are congestions to alleviate the pressure. Some of the traffic lights are out due to vandalism and sometimes it’s load-shedding, so there’s an increased demand for traffic control."

He added that resources were overstretched as, over and above traffic control, metro  police have other responsibilities.

“Our officers deal with other emergencies and crime prevention in the city, so we also have to factor that in when deploying officers. They cannot be at every intersection, but we try to ensure they are at most major intersections in the city."

Fihla said metro police also had to deal with “unauthorised pointsmen”. These people posed a risk and the city would not be liable should anything go wrong. 

Many motorists say load-shedding has doubled their travelling time, leaving them frustrated.

Kgomotso Matlapeng, who drives from Weltevreden Park in the west of Johannesburg to Auckland Park, said it takes her more than an hour to travel less than 20km.

“It used to take me just under 20 minutes, but in recent days it’s more than an hour because most traffic lights are out and there are no metro police or other people directing traffic,” she said.

Kgosi Mahlangu, who travels from Ormonde in the south of Johannesburg to the CBD, said it now takes him more than 40 minutes to get to the office compared with 10 previously.

Meanwhile, ward 89 councillor Leah Knott, who is responsible for suburbs including Weltevreden Park and Northcliff, said some motorists could be suffering from “load-shedding fatigue” as she had observed increased impatience.

“At big intersections you see three vehicles moving from the same side at the same time and not waiting for their turn.

Knott did say that on small roads in residential areas drivers were still trying to be courteous and adhere to the rules of the road.

She added that she understood the pressures officers face when directing traffic.

“At any given time we have 1,000 officers on duty and traffic management is just a small portion of their work. They mainly focus on directing traffic in the inner city and on other main roads,” she said.


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