The Automobile Association (AA) has said that traffic law departments which do not make every effort to mitigate the impact of rolling blackouts on traffic congestion are failing motorists in the towns and cities they serve.
It added that excuses by traffic departments based on a lack of resources cannot be accepted any longer.
“The rolling blackouts by the power utility Eskom are a major blow to South Africa’s already embattled economy,” the AA said.
“An earlier attempt to exclude peak certain times for the blackouts has been another colossal failure and is having an enormous negative effect on traffic. It’s time traffic law enforcers step up, do their jobs, and provide services to the motoring public to ease this pressure.”
The AA said it has received complaints from motorists regarding a lack of traffic policing at major intersections when the traffic lights are off due to load-shedding.
In these instances, motorists drive and block emergency lanes to skip queues of vehicles with no repercussions.
Roadblocks and traffic crisis
“We have consistently reminded motorists to remain calm in the traffic, to obey the rules of the road at all times, and to adjust their attitudes to accommodate for unforeseen scenarios. But traffic law enforcers seem to believe it is business as usual for them when it is anything but,” the AA said.
“Erecting roadblocks or traffic stops to check for expired licence discs to fuel revenue is not an appropriate response – traffic law enforcement across the country needs to do better.”
The AA listed a number of measure for traffic law enforcement to implement that would improve the situation:
- Immediately suspending roadblocks and traffic stops targeted at revenue collection which do not aid in the free-flow of traffic. Obviously roadblocks targeted at dealing with criminal activities must continue; these should not be confused with those seeking only to check for expired licence discs.
- Redeploying all available traffic officials to major intersections and routes where congestion is known to be severe as a result of the rolling blackouts – especially at peak times in the mornings and afternoons.
- Increasing the working hours of traffic law enforcement officials to ensure more people are available when needed.
“It’s been reported that the rolling blackouts could last for up to 18 months,” the AA said. “If urgent measures are not put in place as a priority, the country’s fragile economy will be further battered by the current situation.”
It added that it is disheartening to see government ignoring the current road crisis caused by a lack of traffic officers at intersections during load-shedding.
“There appears to be a general acceptance that the current road traffic chaos is nothing new, or that it is not worthy of receiving priority attention.”
“We remind government that our country is a vehicle reliant society and any threat to the free flow of traffic will result in major negative consequences for the economy,” the AA said.