Alarm raised at EC traffic staff complement

There is one traffic officer for every 1456 motorists in the Eastern Cape but the ratio of traffic vehicles is even worse with one blue light vehicle having to patrol 4050 cars.

These ratios were revealed by provincial transport, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana in reply to oral questions by the DA MPL Marshall von Buchenroder at the provincial legislature on Friday.

Tikana said the operational budget for the 556 traffic officers was R84.3-million. She said no additional staff had been appointed in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 financial years. However, 40 interns had been appointed in the 2016-17 financial year and 35 traffic officers in the 2017-18 financial year.

“The reason no appointments could take place is due to insufficient funding for the programme. The ratio is 1:1456 traffic officers to registered road users. This is vastly higher if visitors are taken into account and residents residing in the province who have vehicles registered in other provinces,” she said.

Tikana said Alfred Nzo district had 142 rangers who operated during the week and 12 on weekends, Amathole had 192 during the week and 23 over weekends while Chris Hani had 156 during the week and 15 on weekends.

Von Buchenroder said traffic safety would be in the spotlight with the approaching festive season.

“The only way to limit the carnage on our roads is to stop motorists from taking chances, driving unroadworthy vehicles, overloading, speeding and drunk driving. This can be achieved by visible policing on our roads and by effective traffic law enforcement.”

Von Buchenroder said his research showed that most accidents happened at night or in the early morning hours.

“This is the time when there is little or no law enforcement on our roads. The current operating system in the province for traffic officers is a two-shift system: from 6am to 2pm and 2pm to 10pm. Thereafter officers operate on a standby system. In other words, if an official works beyond the standard hours, it is regarded as overtime,” he said.

He said there were not enough officials to do the job effectively in a province that has 88000 registered vehicles. He said there were more effective ways to reduce road accidents and lawlessness.

His party proposed a number of interventions:

l To request additional funding from the national and provincial treasury;

l To reprioritise the budget in order to provide more funds for service delivery;

lTo recruit, train and appoint new traffic department members annually in order to reach the adequate number of traffic law enforcement officers;

lTo uplift the morale of members; and

l To establish a fully functional 24-hour law enforcement service in the province. — zolilem@tisoblackstar.co.za

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