Traffic cop strike may end

2014-03-19 00:00

AN early meeting today between striking traffic officers and the transport department head might finally break the impasse that has shut down some of the department’s important operations in recent days.

Department head Sibusiso Gumbi said he would meet the traffic officers this morning and was hopeful that operations would resume normally thereafter.

He said the officers wanted assurances that the circumstances which led to the delayed payment of their overtime would not be repeated. He believed the delays were unacceptable and there was a need to ensure they were addressed.

Road Traffic Inspectorate officers in Pietermaritzburg have been on strike for the past two days after the department failed to pay their overtime on time. Operations at Mkondeni Testing Ground, one of its busiest centres, ground to a halt and sections of the N3 toll road were not patrolled.

Yesterday, people arriving at the centre were still being turned away by signs saying no services were being offered until further notice.

With just two days of closure, local driving schools were already feeling the pressure of backed up driving tests, and predicted gloom if the stalemate continued.

A local driving school manager said: “Just today I lost close to R4 000. My instructors are also not getting paid.

“We have to take the clients to the centre so they can validate their bookings. If we don’t, the clients lose their bookings which are already paid for, and that is not fair.”

A traffic official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said the striking officers were pushing the matter to the limit.

“I understand that they are demanding that they be addressed by the head of department, and they are demanding apologies for some things that were apparently said.

“The officers received letters telling them that their overtime payments had been delayed and they would be paid on March 20, but they still went on strike,” the officer said.

He said the prolonged absence of traffic officers from the road meant large parts of the N3 were not being patrolled, putting the lives of motorists at risk.

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