Christine Mokwele, Thobani Nkabinde and Joyce Mokaleng form part of a team of 33 mobile points-people in Johannesburg, who are the unsung heroes that save our mornings and afternoons by directing traffic through major intersections when robots are not working.
They cover the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) footprint, they hail from disadvantaged backgrounds, and they were discovered while volunteering at police stations or within Community Protection Forums in local townships.
“My worst intersection is the corner of the K101 and Allandale,” says Mokwele.
“The taxi drivers are rude and they turn two lanes into four. They’ve become so abusive that on occasion we’ve had to call Joburg Metro for assistance”.
Mokaleng sometimes works with Mokwele, and their favourite intersection is corner Barry Hertzog and The Braids in Emmarentia. “Mr. Moosa, a resident in the area, passes us regularly and has taken us to the nearby Wimpy as a reward for the work we do,” said Mokaleng.
Nkabinde has also had a few happy motorists thank him.
“I once prevented an accident on Southway Road in Kelvin, and the driver stopped down the road, walked back to me and gave me R100. Other motorists have handed over the odd pie and soft drink on busy days too,” said Nkabinde.
The project, dubbed by most as the “Outsurance Pointsmen”, has been going since 2006 and is run by a company called Traffic Freeflow (TFF),which in collaboration with the relevant Metro and Traffic Departments administers the service.
It has been dubbed SA’s most successful Public Private Partnership as it carries no cost to the city, and frees up officers to fight crime and handle law-enforcement. Motorists benefit from decreased travelling time and lower stress levels too.
But the need for the service is ever on the increase due to ever-increasing congestion.
Points-people have fixed-term contracts, work during morning and afternoon peak times (they don’t work in the rain), and are divided into two categories – static and mobile.
Static teams report via their own transport to the same intersection daily (mornings and afternoons) and have routine shifts. The more-experienced mobile points teams report to the TFF offices in Kelvin every morning, collect their scooters, and are then dispatched to intersections needing attention. These locations are instructions received from JMPD, the Johannesburg Roads Agency, or media sources like Radio 702.
The 33 mobile points-people in Jozi travel approximately 80 000km in an average month! There are currently 117 points-people across both disciplines working in the Joburg area (80 male/37 female), and 27 in Tshwane (12 male/15 female) where the project started only in May this year.
“We’ve never had to advertise for recruits as interested candidates drop their CVs off at our office, we literally have thousands on file,” said Colleen Bekker, CEO of Traffic Freeflow.
To become a points-person the applicant needs a matric certificate and a clear criminal record, and they need to pass a character profiling.
Applicants are chosen by JMPD and trained at its Academy. This is followed by a mentorship program which allows them to move up to increasingly-challenging intersections – until they are competent enough to work in synchronisation with a partner. The training takes up to six weeks.
Outsurance is the project’s largest and most committed sponsor, but the project also enjoys the financial support of 32 other clients.
“We’d like to grow the project from strength to strength, and are always on the look-out for more commitment from the private sector,” concluded Bekker. -Star Motoring
For more information visit www.trafficfreeflow.co.za