New ‘traffic police’ a burden on motorists

2011-04-02 17:08

The new “super traffic police”, who are aimed at stopping corruption and reducing road deaths, have no powers yet and 20 out of the 231 recruits could not even drive a car a few months ago.

What is more, it has become apparent that Gauteng motorists will have to pay at least part of the costs of the national unit.

Although the South African Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) earlier ­indicated that proposed ­sky-high toll rates would apply only to Gauteng highways, it seems the agency will also pay for the ­National Traffic Intervention Unit.

The unit falls under the auspices of the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), but internal documents prove that RTMC ­invoices Sanral for its operations.

Transport department spokesperson Logan Maistry admitted that Sanral paid at least partially for the unit, but he said it was only for projects on “road safety and law ­enforcement issues”.

The internal documents state, however, that Sanral even asked that the logo of the general toll project be displayed on the new patrol vehicles.

The unit’s first year will cost ­taxpayers R150?million.

Minister of Transport Sibusiso Ndebele said that over the past nine months the new officials had been trained in ethics, interpersonal communication, diplomatic protocol and traffic control, among others.

This equipped them to work “in ­corruption-ridden traffic areas”.

The minister was mum on the unit’s connection to the new ­toll roads and Sanral.

The toll roads became a hot potato after the Gauteng government ­indicated it had not been ­consulted on the project, which was subsequently suspended pending further consultation.

Motorists also objected strongly and wanted to know what the ­proposed rates – up to 66c a kilometre – would be used for.

Sanral is now paying for the new traffic force which will have to recoup toll fees from motorists, independent of metro councils and provincial traffic authorities.

City Press understands that some RTMC bosses are anxious about the legal aspects of their new super force.

Maistry admitted that the unit’s members had not yet been appointed as traffic officers so that, as peace officers, they would be endowed with certain powers such as the right to arrest people.

Law amendments that will give the RTMC the authority to appoint traffic officers are not in force yet.

Maistry insisted, however, officers would still be legally appointed so they could have certain powers, but he did not indicate when.

Local authorities are also upset because the new unit will be ­working within their areas of jurisdiction and will be issuing fines in the name of the RTMC, which means less money for local authorities.

Maistry said that no law forced them to have formal agreements with these local authorities to allow them to work there.

He also insisted there was a clear plan involving the new unit.

Neither Sanral nor the RTMC would comment. Both entities fall ­under the auspices of the Department of Transport.

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