Traffic light nightmare

2010-04-21 00:00

IRATE motorists are spending almost twice as long in traffic because the traffic lights at the Chota Motala (Old Greytown) Road intersection have been out of order for almost a week, while primary schoolchildren are dicing with death each time they cross the road there.

But Msunduzi Traffic’s acting public safety manager, Kenneth Chetty, said people should stop pointing fingers and instead “understand that the city is going through problems and that the Old Greytown intersection is not the only one that is out of order”.

The electricity department, which Chetty said is supposed to fix the robots, has staff on strike.

The process manager for electricity, Maxwell Mthembu, said that “although some of the guys are willing to work, we are pulling them off jobs because the workers on strike are beating them up”.

The intersection is one of the busiest in the city; almost everyone who lives in the northern suburbs passes through it on the way to work and the shops.

To make matters worse, motorists say traffic officers have not been posted there to control the flow of vehicles. While the broken traffic lights should be treated as a four-way stop, many motorists still seem to take chances and drive through without stopping.

Chetty said there have been traffic control officers at the intersection during peak traffic hours in the morning, but motorists and the Forest Hill Primary School yesterday condemned his assertion as false.

“I was at the robot at around 7.15 am in the morning and at about 5.25 pm in the afternoon, and there were no traffic officers,” said Krishan Naidoo of Northdale, who uses the intersection every day.

“It is absolute chaos; it usually takes me 45 minutes to get to work, but today it took me an hour and 20 minutes. It’s pathetic,” he said yesterday.

Naidoo said this is just “another example of how the Indian community is neglected. Nothing ever gets done on our side of town.”

Alphonso Jasson, the deputy principal at Forest Hill Primary, is worried that the absence of a traffic officer could result in the deaths of small schoolchildren who cross the road daily.

When told about the absent traffic officers, Chetty said that “there are traffic officers there from seven to eight in the morning, but they leave the intersection when the traffic is not built up”. Other motorists reported having seen officers there only once since the robots were down.

When this was relayed to Chetty, he said that “maybe the traffic officers left to go on patrol”.

Chetty said the department cannot post traffic officers at the intersection all day as there is not enough staff. “It is not the only intersection that is out. Boshoff, Pietermaritz and New Greytown are also out of order,” he said.

Naidoo said he has tried repeatedly to get hold of the traffic department, to no avail. “It is [irritating] because I have tried to complain, but nothing gets done. Why do we even pay rates and taxes?”

He added: “I want some action. I will go to the administrator and the mayor …”

But Chetty said there is nothing the traffic department can do about it. “We have tried numerous times to get hold of the electricity department so they can sort it out. We have informed them about it, but nothing has been done”.

Mthembu responded, “Kenneth [Chetty] is a senior manager and he does not have a clue what I am going through. I am trying to sort out all these power problems myself.”

He added that the Chota Motala intersection has “a cable fault and we need to dig, but there is no labour because of the strike”.

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