File Picture: David Ritchie

Durban - The eThekwini Municipality has been slated for not conducting any speed enforcements on its roads since July 2017.

Shaun Ryley, a Democratic Alliance eThekwini Councillor, said over this period Durban Metro Police have not been able to fulfill one of its most vital responsibilities, leaving what many believe to be lawlessness on the roads.

Ryley said that on 17 July 2017 speed timing operations ceased when the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (DDPP) objected to the pricing model of the electronic enforcement tender.

"This tender, finalised in February 2017, was structured in such a way so that the service provider would be paid what effectively amounts to a commission on each fine paid to the municipality. The DDPP has stated that a fixed monthly cost for all services rendered regardless of charges paid would be a more suitable method,"Ryley said. 

The municipality is now locked in an ongoing tussle with the DDPP over who is right. Ryley said with no end to this battle in sight, speeding motorists are allowed to run amok in eThekwini.

In October 2017 the Daily News featured an article titled  Why Durban drivers ignore red traffic lights. In the article a municipal spokesperson said that in the interests of complying with the law on the use of traffic cameras on city roads, the city has stopped using the traffic cameras at intersections.

“Once the compliance matter has been dealt with, we will continue using the speed-measuring equipment on city roads.” In the interim, our metro police unit has deployed 450 officers to ensure that motorists adhere to the law. Regular roadblocks are also ongoing. Motorists are urged to comply with the speed limit. Non-compliance can be reported to 031 361 0000.” read a statement on the issue. 

Ryley said that as councillors they received constant complaints about speeding on every class of road in the wards they look after. 

"We are inundated with requests for speed humps which are, more often than not, turned down by the eThekwini Transport Authority (ETA). We are told that there cannot be an engineered solution to poor driver behaviour and that this is ultimately an enforcement issue. However, with no speed timing taking place on our roads who are residents supposed to turn to?" he asked. 

He said the DA has been driving this issue constantly in the Security and Emergency Services Committee. 

"The progress updates we have received have not left us satisfied that this matter is being prioritised accordingly. People's lives are at stake and somebody needs to be held accountable for this. The individual/s responsible for allowing this to happen are negligent to the highest degree,"he said. 

Ryley believes that two years of no speed enforcement on our roads is frankly outrageous and can no longer be defended.

"We are therefore calling for those in a position to rectify this to stop dithering and make this matter a priority before more lives are lost on our roads due to excessive speeding. This cannot be delayed any longer,"he concluded.  

The Daily News observed four busy intersections during afternoon peak-hour traffic along Umgeni Road and found skipping a red light was common, not only by minibus taxi drivers.

At the intersection of Sandile Thusi (Argyle) and Umgeni roads, 16 cars ignored the red robot, driving through the intersection without stopping. At the intersection of Umgeni Road north and Isaiah Ntshangase (Walter Gilbert) Road, which leads to the stadiums, a fixed camera did not flash although more than 12 cars had gone through a red signal.

In five minutes and four signal changes at Smiso Nkwanyana (Goble) Road and Umgeni north, 25 cars broke the law including a minibus taxi, travelling on the left lane, that nearly collided with a car that had already turned from Umgeni Road southbound towards Smiso Nkwanyana Road. The fine for driving through a red traffic signal is R1 500.

While some motorists would not like to see this camera fixed, it has been staring at the ground for nearly a year on Chris Hani (North Coast) Road at the intersection of Blackburn Road. 

Advocate Moipone Noko, the provincial Director of Public Prosecutions, said they could not comment on the matter.

Daily News