Lack of staff almost cause aspirant drivers to miss learner’s test

2009-12-24 00:00

ASPIRANT drivers scheduled to write their learner’s tests at the uMngeni municipal premises this past weekend almost went home empty-handed, after being told there was no staff available to conduct their tests.

According to well-placed sour­ces, approximately 40 candidates were told to vacate the premises as there were no traffic officers to supervise them, but the furious applicants stood their ground and refused to budge.

Sources said the manager in charge was forced to contact a chief traffic officer who eventually came in and conducted the tests.

The Witness has learnt that the lack of traffic officers on Saturday stems from a decision taken by the municipality to adopt a cost-cutting exercise aimed at restructuring and limiting the overtime budget in the traffic department.

“Traffic officers are understan­dably aggrieved as they are an essential service and, during the festive period, are required to assist the RTI with traffic monitoring and accidents on the N3,” a source said.

The Witness has been informed that management within the municipality has, on three separate occasions, been requested to provide a breakdown regarding overtime expenditure without any luck.

Following the first request, the chief financial officer allegedly told council that the figures were not their concern.

When the request was made for the second time, council was told that the amounts were inclu­ded in the quarterly financial report and lumped together with the expenditure on salaries.

“The third was in response to a notice of motion to council by [DA] councillors Pam Passmoor and Moira Grueneberg. They were informed that the information being requested was a line item and that the chief financial officer is not obliged by law to provide this information to councillors,” a source said.

Grueneberg issued the following statement: “Traffic officers provide an essential service on our roads, especially during the Christmas rush. By cutting their overtime, the whole municipality was without their services during one of the bu­siest weekends of the year. This action by the manager in charge is irresponsible and warrants further investigation.”

Passmoor said, although the municipality has stated that overtime expenditure is not a cause for concern, their behaviour suggests otherwise.

She said: “At every public meeting, we get asked what the tractors do during the week, because they only appear on public holidays and weekends. My gut feeling is that we have the same problem as Msunduzi, with regard to the overtime of the mayor’s four bodyguards.

Acting municipal manager Sandile Buthelezi denied the existence of an overtime problem.

 

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