Council cars going the extra mile for stars irk motorists on the N3

2014-08-06 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality’s barely visible traffic unit is the latest to join the ranks of blue light abusers.

Three vehicles with official NPC registration plates flashed their blue lights on the N3 on Sunday morning as they escorted a convoy of vehicles. Only this time they were not transporting high-ranking politicians, but jazz singers — the artists from Saturday’s jazz concert held at the Golden Horse Casino.

Maritzburg motorists expressed surprise at seeing so many council vehicles at one go. The problem was that they were not policing the city streets, but hogging the highway.

Callers questioned whether the NPC has jurisdiction on the N3. The entourage included two black limousines, a mix of other vehicles and two minibuses. The convoy caused quite a stir on the New England Road off-ramp as they waited for all the vehicles to assemble.

Enterprising motorist Nick McConnell, curious about the hullaballoo, called a number on one of the branded vehicles.

He discovered that it was the jazz artists being transported to Durban. McConnell said the convoy travelled at a respectable speed but complained that they hogged the right lane, instead of keeping to the left.

A former deputy chief traffic officer in Pietermaritzburg, James Mills, said the use of blue lights was reserved for emergencies or when escorting presidential and senior government figures for security reasons.

“They are not meant to be used for singers, musicians and rock bands,” Mills said.

Mills also believed that municipal officers required permission from council to perform a duty on the N3. He said that even with council permission the officers would only have jurisdiction on the highway up to the borders of the municipality.

“The situation is different for eThekwini. The metro traffic officers have jurisdiction on the N3, beyond the city borders. The higher powers given to Durban Metro officers are not the same for Pietermaritzburg municipal officers,” Mills said.

Spokesperson for the jazz concert organisers, Brian Zuma, said it was true that their international artist, Chris Walker, was escorted by council vehicles. “When he was here, he was our responsibility as well as Msunduzi Municipality as one of the organisers of the concert,” Zuma said.

He added he could not comment on whether or not the their actions were against the law, but would leave that for the municipality. Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi has asked deputy municipal manager for community services, Boniwe Zulu, to check whether they were in line with the law and had fulfilled legal requirements.

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