Plans to spend R24m on new traffic unit

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The Department of Transport’s financially ailing traffic monitoring agency has plans to establish yet another traffic unit at a cost of R24 million despite its defunct supercop unit and its continued financial woes.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation’s latest unit will focus on corruption. And according to the corporation’s spokesman, Ashref Ismail, a internal officer has been appointed to set up the unit.

Ismail however admitted that the corporation did not know where it would get the money to fund the unit.

“We are busy with a comprehensive business plan to look at the cost implications. But we will approach the Treasury and the Department of Transport as our mother body. We are also in consultation with other agencies,” he said this week.

But The Sunday Independent has seen a propopsed budget for the unit, with equipment costs at R8.5m, vehicles at R11m, an IT system at R1.3m, training at R1.9m and firearms, ammunition and furniture at R1.2m.

The unit was announced by acting CEO Collins Letsoalo at an executive committee meeting last week.

The announcement came just days before The Sunday Independent revealed how the cash-strapped corporation could not afford the R4.7m salary bill of its current traffic policing unit, the National Traffic Police Intervention Unit, which was mooted as a supercop unit to monitor highways across the country with no jurisdiction. But 17 months after it was established, it only has two breathalysers and its number plate recognition software – installed for R1m in each of the unit’s 24 vehicles – is still defunct.

The 261 officers’ salaries were initially paid by the SA National Roads Agency as it is to monitor Gauteng’s tolled roads when they come into effect.

But a fall-out between Sanral and the corporation meant the corporation has had to fork out R50m in salaries since October. The corporation only gets a grant of R86m.

Earlier this year Letsoalo admitted to the National Assembly’s transport committee that the corporation was “effectively insolvent” after the National Treasury turned down a request for additional funding and that it was R38m over its R86m budget as a result of having to pay the intervention unit officers’ salaries.

This week several members of the corporation’s executive committee confirmed to The Sunday Independent that the announcement of the new unit took place at the meeting. It was the first official talk of the unit.

“There were rumours in the corridors in the past month. But we did not think it would happen because we do not have the money to start it,” said the member, who did not want to be named as he is not allowed to speak to the media.

“These things take money. Branding, vehicles and uniforms are needed and the officers would have to be trained. We are currently in a deficit. We have been in a deficit since the first quarter of the year,” said the member.

“Another executive committee member who also did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, said the new unit was not part of the corporation’s strategic plan for the next three years. He described the unit as a “duplication of services”.

The unit will compete with the Special Investigating Unit, which has been probing licensing fraud.

candice.bailey@inl.co.za

Sunday Independent


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