The City of Joburg claims that its hard work towards reducing traffic light downtime and fixing the pothole problem is already showing positive results.
This improvement follows the implementation of the city’s No Joints Policy earlier this year, which means that when repairing the lights, new cables are installed and the fault is not simply joined.
This progressively reduces the high incidence of signal downtime at the most critical high-volume intersections in the city, said member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for transport, Nonhlanhla Mukhuba.
During the 2016/17 financial year which ended in June, 89 intersections were re-cabled and are now joint-free.
There has been an 18% reduction in the average number of daily traffic light faults between November last year and June this year, said Mukhuba.
There has also been a 60% improvement in the average time taken to repair faults, excluding those caused by power outages.
This has resulted in a 55% average traffic light downtime per day.
Power outages remain a major contributor to traffic signal downtime, constituting 50% of the daily faults reported.
Increased interaction between the Joburg Roads Agency (JRA), City Power and Eskom is being prioritised to address this.
Similarly to the JRA, City Power and Eskom are affected by ageing infrastructure and cable theft, which result in power outages.
In March this year, the city allocated an additional R6 million to the JRA through the mid-year adjustment process to enable the accelerated implementation of the No Joints Policy.
This allocation was also used to improve the JRA’s traffic light fault detection systems to improve signal timings and reduce congestion, and for security surveillance of critical intersections prone to theft of infrastructure such as cables.
Additional funding was also provided for hiring personnel, and the JRA started a process of recruiting additional traffic-light repair technicians.
Potholes a priority too
Furthermore, the city says that a total 117 483 potholes have been fixed over the past year.
This constitutes a significant increase of 26 945 or 22% more pothole repairs compared to the same period ending on July 2, 2016.
Following several torrential downpours between November 2016 and January 2017, which damaged roads across the city, causing a proliferation of potholes, repairs were prioritised, said member of the mayoral committee for transport Nonhlanhla Mukhuba.
To address the crisis, the mayor, Herman Mashaba, declared a “war on potholes” and committed an additional R88 million to fast-track the repair of failing road surfaces.
“I am delighted to confirm that through our positive interventions the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) has resolved the crisis by working overtime on evenings and weekends, utilising R60 million for much-needed pothole repair material and equipment. The funds were also utilised in appointing contractors to supplement internal capacity to assist with the backlog. Added to this, R28m has been provided to recruit the 40% JRA road maintenance staff capacity shortages,” said Mukhuba.
Prior to these interventions, the JRA was not keeping up with increased service requests for pothole repairs, but the interventions have enabled the situation to be stabilised.
While the interventions have made a progressive impact on the quality of roads and public safety, pothole repairs are a short-term fix to ensure the safety of all road users. Resurfacing and/or reconstruction of roads remain the long-term solutions of improving the overall condition of the road network, said Mukhuba.
The city’s 13 428km of roads infrastructure is ageing and has not been sufficiently maintained for many years. This means that potholes, which are a sign of failing surface and structural layers, will continue forming with each new rainy season. While the current budget allocation for resurfacing and reconstruction does not fully address these backlogs, it's the intention of the city to gradually increase the budgets for these activities over time, said Mukhuba.
In the weeks to come, the JRA will be releasing its latest study; a visual condition index of the state of the city’s roads, which explains whether the condition of Joburg roads is improving or deteriorating, project future road condition trends, determine maintenance and budgetary requirements as well as inform prioritisation of maintenance projects such as resurfacing and rehabilitation.
In April the JRA announced that nearly half of Joburg’s roads are in such a bad state of disrepair that the JRA will need R1.38billion per year for the next decade to repair them.
This comes after it was revealed that 48% of the roads have been classified as being in “poor” or “very poor” condition.
The agency said the lack of maintenance had allowed the roads to deteriorate, but to get the percentage down to single digits it would cost R13.8bn over the next 10 years.
However, the budget for the 2016/17 financial year for resurfacing and reconstruction was only R262m.