Traffic to put its foot down

2015-03-10 00:00

IGNORE a traffic officer at your peril.

The Msunduzi Municipality is ­prepared to throw the book at obstinate motorists who ignore pointsmen, jump red robots and cause gridlock in the city.

Six motorists have already been charged with assault in the past 10 months after knocking down traffic ­officers at major intersections.

The city has since installed traffic cameras to catch offenders, and is ­planning to install more in a bid to stop the peak-hour chaos.

Municipal traffic department head Kwenza Khumalo said the city had been inundated with requests for pointsmen at major intersections, but the officers were being “attacked” in public.

“This is uncalled for. How many more innocent officers must be assaulted for doing their job?

“How can you attack someone in ­uniform?”

Khumalo said the pointsmen were never intended to be permanently ­stationed at major intersections.

“They are there to remind people that there are rules, but this is not working.”

More drastic steps were needed to deal with the chaos, he said.

Khumalo said the cameras were needed because people simply drove off when a traffic officer tried to fine them.

An officer, who could not be named as he is not authorised to speak to the press, said controlling the traffic, whether robots were working or not, was a difficult task as people often ­ignored his orders.

“You have pedestrians crossing the road at the wrong time and motorists forcing their way through, leading to gridlocks.

“When the robots are out, it is terrible and traffic is almost impossible to control. We are often ignored.”

He said the intersections experiencing the worst congestion were Retief and Church streets, Retief and ­Pietermaritz streets, and Church and Boshoff streets.

He said taxis and cars often parked in the turning lane in Retief Street, ­adding to the congestion.

Complaints of people misbehaving on the roads, especially at intersections in central Pietermaritzburg, have flooded in from road-users, all fed-up with the lawlessness on the city’s roads.

Local resident Geraldine van Wyk said she was horrified when she saw a man disobey the orders of a traffic officer recently in central Pietermaritzburg.

“I saw a driver at the intersection of Commercial and Prince Alfred pushing a traffic officer out of the way with his car when she tried to stop him from ­going through a red robot.

“There is no respect for the law nowadays; it’s a free-for-all out there. I am honestly surprised that there are not more deaths from road rage,” she said.

Another Pietermaritzburg resident, Sarah Smart, said she was almost ­involved in an accident at the Church and Boshoff streets intersection two weeks ago.

“It was about 7 pm. I watched a man jaywalk and misjudge the oncoming ­vehicles.

“A taxi just clipped him on his side, by no fault of the taxi driver, but it was enough to send him running into my lane.

“He is extremely lucky that I wasn’t going faster as it would have resulted in a serious injury.

“This intersection is so bad now that I purposely reduce my speed to avoid being in an accident,” she said.

Winsome Mouton said yesterday morning a driver would not wait at the back of the queue at traffic lights on Alan Paton Avenue.

“He jumped to the front by going into the turning lane and then made a third lane going straight.

“People like this have no respect for others on the road,” she said.

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