Unauthorised people directing traffic during load shedding – yay or nay?

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Traffic congestion during rolling blackouts are a massive headache for motorists amid a shortage of traffic officials to manage large intersections across Johannesburg. Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images
Traffic congestion during rolling blackouts are a massive headache for motorists amid a shortage of traffic officials to manage large intersections across Johannesburg. Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images


Traffic congestion on Johannesburg roads in the absence of load shedding is already a headache. Toss in rotational blackouts and it’s a nightmare.

The homeless, hawkers and ordinary motorists routinely take it upon themselves to direct traffic when the power cuts.

However, the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) has warned against this practice, saying it’s unsafe for the unauthorised traffic controllers.

READ: Is André de Ruyter to blame for Eskom's blackout woes?

Motorists, who City Press polled, are divided on the issue.

Some believe it’s the only way in light of the shortage of traffic officers or Outsurance Pointsmen. Others are completely against the practice.

Thulasizwe Jabu said:

These people often do it from a good place with honest intentions, but they do not understand or foresee the danger that they put us in as motorists because if an accident happens, they will be at fault.

Reggy Mathobe expresses gratitude to those who assist.

“As long as I am not involved and can get to where I am going on time, then what exactly is the issue? These people volunteer themselves.”

Christina Lawrence said that she wished traffic authorities could put an end to this practice.

“I find it highly dangerous and totally unacceptable. Who are they to even think they have the authority, capability and mere understanding of what it takes to control cars? The traffic department should do something about this before things get out of control.”

READ: Small business buckle under relentless load shedding

With rotational blackouts at their peak, the JMPD says it has received numerous complaints about unauthorised people controlling heavy traffic congestion during peak periods in the morning and afternoon.

JMPD spokesperson Xolani Fihla says officers can’t be at every corner and intersection and “with the assistance of Traffic Free Flow sponsored by Outsurance, main arterials, heavy congested and major routes are prioritised”.

He further explains that officers are deployed in Midrand, Soweto, Sandton, Roodepoort, Orange Farm, Johannesburg CBD and surrounding areas, such as Yeoville and Hillbrow.

READ: Dashiki | Call the devil by its name: Blackout!

Fihla adds that the challenge with unauthorised people managing traffic is that if an accident happens, the city will not be liable for any damages incurred and can only be liable if the traffic is controlled by officers or authorised officials.

He says this behaviour further endangers the lives of these individuals as they may be run over by vehicles.

We discourage motorists from giving unauthorised people money as an incentive to control traffic.

“This encourages them to continue and even go to the extent of tampering with traffic lights and traffic light controller boxes to make money.

“We urge motorists to adhere to and always obey the rules of the road and where there are no points, [motorists] should treat those intersections as compulsory stops.”


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