Stuck drivers worry about road rage

2010-10-19 00:00

MOUNTING frustration over Pietermaritzburg’s traffic congestion has inspired an overwhelming response to appeals for solutions.

Most motorists responded to the congestion caused by diversions at the Chota Motala interchange by saying that visible policing is the only way to alleviate the problem.

Rikesh Ishwarlall said the cash-strapped municipality can earn thousands of rands by fining errant taxi drivers who break the traffic rules at peak times.

Rather than view the situation as a challenge because of a lack of resources, he said it should be seen as a revenue collection exercise.

Ishwarlall, Paddy Padayachee and several other motorists who have witnessed the frustration of drivers are concerned about the possibility of road rage incidents.

There was strong support for councillor Mergan Chetty’s proposal to make Manning Avenue a one-way carriageway at peak times.

Some residents questioned the suggestion by Msunduzi spokesperson Brian Zuma to use Willowton and Manning roads as alternative routes. Does he realise that they are even more congested than Chota Motala, they asked.

Naresh Samlal and his wife previously travelled in separate cars because they worked in different parts of the city. They now travel together and leave home earlier, but are still taking just as long to reach town. They believe the biggest problem is the taxis. If Msunduzi Traffic Department cannot cope, it should enlist the help of other law enforcement agencies, they said.

Samlal said that two weeks ago the accident unit had a roadblock in Mountain Rise in the morning.

“This was a good thing, but the next day the taxis did the same, only this time they waited in traffic, sent the conductor on foot to check for any roadblocks. The moment he gives the driver the clear signal, out shoots the taxi and drives in the wrong lane to get to the front of the queue. They are honestly a huge hazard. What gives them the right to do as they please?”

Meryle Moodley said of Zuma’s suggestion about lift clubs: “I travel from the Northdale area daily with a lift club, the driver of which abides by all the laws and regulations. However, this does not even remotely reduce my travelling time. For example, today it took my lift club a whole hour just from Raisethorpe to work, even using the routes suggested by Mr Zuma. There is an added strain on the alternative routes as well.

“I refuse to accept that there is nothing that can be done to ease the congestion, as this congestion has several other consequent factors that need to be taken into account.

“It seems like laziness to me,” said Moodley.

Several others residents were critical of the Msunduzi Traffic Department.

Sunny Gayadin said simple steps can be taken to help alleviate the congestion.

He said the municipality should enlist the help of the business community for suggestions and enlist senior citizens as volunteers to help monitor the situation.

There were also suggestions for better synchronisation of traffic lights to allow for better traffic flow.

“I’M stuck in the traffic with you.” So says councillor Mergan Chetty in response to residents asking where he is and what he is doing to make good his pledge in his election manifesto to sort out their traffic problems.

Chetty said it was as a result of seeing taxis driving recklessly and endangering the lives of schoolchildren commuters that he proposed making Manning Avenue a one- way carriageway during peak traffic times.

He went yesterday to check on the progress of his proposal and was told to wait until today when administrator Johann Mettler returns to his office.

Chetty promised again to live up to his election pledge, which was reported in the media in May.

He said he has also received a detailed letter from residents in Plymouth Road about traffic lights in their area that are poorly synchronised, causing a major build- up of traffic. He has sent the letter to acting municipal manager Thokozani Maseko and the deputy manager of the infrastructure, services and facilities department Trevor Cowie and is awaiting their response.

“PLEASE get bosses to understand that when we come late to work and say it is because of the traffic we are not making excuses.”

This was typical of the pleas of many residents who called The Witness to say they are being severely reprimanded by their bosses and are told not to use traffic as an excuse.

Ayesha Chothia and Vinay Sivnarian suggest employers should consider offering flexitime to employees, with staggered start and finish work times. Chothia says some employees can work from 7 am to 4 pm, while others start at 8 am and finish at 5 pm

She said she hopes a solution to the congestion will be found soon because the upgrade of the Chota Motala interchange is expected to be completed by the end of next year at the earliest.

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