WATCH | Lights out: These traffic controllers want to help, but JMPD says proceed with caution

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  • South Africans may face permanent Stage 2 and 3 load shedding over the next two years. 
  • As blacked-out robots become a norm, informal traffic controllers have taken the initiative to alleviate congestion. 
  • JMPD told News24 it was against using informal traffic controllers and urged motorists to proceed cautiously. 

Traffic congestion happens daily on busy routes, but blacked-out robots are a new norm as the power crisis in South Africa worsens. 

The spokesperson for the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), Xolani Fihla, said they had not been immune to the effects of load shedding. 

"It's not only load shedding, but also through vandalism of robots and cable theft, which have left a lot of robots either malfunctioning or not functioning at all," he told News24. 

Fihla said the JMPD instructed all officers to assist in controlling traffic during peak hours. He said the City was grateful to OUTsurance for its help in appointing qualified traffic officers to alleviate congestion. 

But informal traffic controllers, like Aubrey Ndlovu, who operates at the busy William Nicol drive intersection in Johannesburg, told News24 they wanted to be part of the solution. 

READ | JMPD officer helps woman give birth on side of the road on first day in higher-ranking post

"The little that they give us, we will make a living out of it because the majority of us here don't have jobs, so, with controlling traffic, it's basically us helping the community," he said. 

"It's not much. In a day, you might leave with R70 or R80... it's not bad, but it's better than going out there and trying to rob people. This is like us reducing crime activities," Ndlovu said. 

He has, however, encountered a couple of unsavoury motorists in the process.  

"I've been hit by a car. Some motorists don't listen, some spit at you, some throw stuff, they even tell you that they won't give you anything."

Fihla warned motorists to approach intersections, where informal traffic controllers operate, with caution.

He said:

Ideally, we'd say don't abide with these people controlling traffic. We do get numerous complaints from motorists… It is a danger and, if you do come across that situation, we advise that you do take the utmost caution.

Fihla added that formal procedures were being implemented to recruit more traffic officers, and anyone interested should apply.

One motorist told News24 that they were appreciative of the work Ndlovu and his colleagues were doing.

"So there's not enough traffic officers on the road to assist with traffic when it comes to load shedding, so these informal traffic controllers assist discreetly... they are playing a very important role in the community."

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