Over the past 14 years the traffic policing has deteriorated to the stage where there is virtually no policing taking place.
This deterioration has also manifested itself in the traffic department in terms of low fine collection and slow service in administration etc. Inefficiency leads to more inefficiency.
It is time for the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality to acknowledge this sad state of affairs and take urgent action.
I believe that this starts with the appointment of a suitably qualified and experienced chief traffic officer. This will require someone with special qualities to turn the department around.
He/she will need to be a strict disciplinarian and have the staying power to overcome the resistance to changed circumstances.
This will be an uphill battle and will need dogged determination on the part of the individual, together with the full support of the executive director and the municipality. The following are reasons for action.
1. We are dealing with the lives of all individuals due to the lack of law enforcement. All drivers of vehicles are now becoming blase about breaking the traffic laws, whether it be a minor or major infringement. We need a zero tolerance approach and gradually move from reactive traffic policing to proactive.
2. The department must be properly equipped in terms of vehicles and equipment together with the correct level of capable staff. At present this is lacking.
3. Motor cycles – These must be brought back into use. In all other cities and other countries, these are used effectively and form one of the main bases for traffic control. We have the motor cycles available.
4. Disciplinary action – This must be seen to be done against those traffic officers who are not meeting the requirements. At present they are getting away with it and the worst example is where they decided to block the freeway using municipal traffic vehicles. They should have been suspended without pay and/or fired. The department needs to be run on para-military procedures.
5. Targets for fines and collection – These should be set in line with other major cities.
6. Choice of chief traffic officer – The right person with the required skills and attributes needs to be appointed. He will need to install discipline back into the department, which will be an uphill task, as well as face resistance from the trade unions. There will also be resistance from the current staff who have got used to lax controls and doing their own thing, part of which is private business.
7. Minibus taxis – Unfortunately, some of these (both drivers and vehicles) have become a major danger on our roads and require specific attention. It would appear that our traffic officers are reluctant to take action against them for fear of victimisation.
The other problem is that they are unable to collect fines as the drivers are not the owners etc.
We need to amend the bylaws so that the driver as well as the registered owner can be fined.
Also, vehicles should be impounded until such time as fines are paid. Naturally there will also be resistance from the taxi associations.
It is a sad indictment when we witness in certain cases our regular police apprehending drivers for traffic violations.
Finally, accidental death does not distinguish between race, gender, creed or politics. It is time to take action NOW!
–AGB – Concerned Driver