Car shortage hampering metro police’s work

Image: Reuben Goldberg

The Nelson Mandela Bay metro police’s effectiveness has been hamstrung by having 19 of its fleet in for minor repairs, leaving more than 100 officers with only nine cars.

This was heard by councillors at a safety and security portfolio committee meeting in Port Elizabeth.

This has directly affected the force’s visibility in the Bay, with metro police chief Yolanda Faro saying that because of Covid-19 they were also mindful of not having too many officers in one car.

The force was also waiting for new cars that it had ordered in the 2019/2020 financial year which ended in June, but the city’s fleet management services had not kept metro police bosses abreast with why the cars had still not been delivered, the committee heard.

Faro told councillors they also needed R2m to buy new cars which would help them patrol the city effectively.

She did not say how many cars they would buy with the proposed R2m.

In a report to the committee, safety and security executive director Keith Meyer said R2m had been reserved in the capital budget to purchase vehicles for the metro police.

Initially R300,000 was budgeted, but this later increased to R2m.

The metro police are still waiting for fleet management services to deliver the new vehicles for the 2019/2020 financial year.

Several e-mails were communicated regarding this and there’s been no response.

“For the 2020/2021 financial year the purchasing of two new bakkies for the metro police department was approved and submitted to fleet management services for further action and handling, Meyer said.

Upon hearing this new information, EFF councillor Amandlangawethu Madaka questioned the jump from R300,000 to R2m.

How many bakkies will this money buy?” Madaka said.

“What is the effectiveness of the metro police because a lot of community members continuously complain about their lack of visibility in their communities?

My thinking is that the metro police are duplicating the role of traffic officers instead of fighting crime.

Faro said they were battling with a vehicle shortage and only nine were operating.

It can’t be that you have more than 100 officers using only nine vehicles.

This has added to the issue of visibility that residents have been raising because 19 vehicles are in automotive for minor repairs and services and it’s not only my department that has the problem but also traffic as well.

“They are not getting repaired as quickly.

We also have the challenge with not wanting to overpopulate our vehicles due to Covid-19 so those are some of the things we’re battling with now, Faro said.

Safety and security political head Queeni Pink requested that Meyer come up with a plan for the vehicle shortages as residents were complaining about a lack of metro police visibility.

Meyer said he had been made aware of the metro police cars debacle only on Friday and he would be meeting infrastructure and engineering executive director Walter Shaidi, who is in charge of transport, to come up with a plan.

Asked how long the cars had been in for repairs, Meyer said: “Dates vary but as far back as July 2020”.

Asked whether the cars in for repairs were in for major problems or minor issues like just flat tyres, Meyer said it was mechanical and other wear and tear on vehicles because they were used around the clock.

“The cars are used on a ‘hot seating’ basis around the clock.

“It caters for approximately 15 members per 12-hour shift for a total of 124 members,” Meyer said.

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