Not a cop in sight: overtime cuts could leave the N3 unattended over the Easter weekend. File picture: Zandile Nsuntsha / Independent Media.
Durban - Cuts in overtime pay for Road Traffic Inspectorate officers are threatening law enforcement as they could leave busy routes such as the N3 unattended during public holidays.

Several officers told The Mercury that they were no longer allowed to work overtime that would exceed 30 percent of their annual salary, which translates to about 29 hours per month. The cut on overtime and a new shift structure are among a number of processes implemented by the department of transport at the beginning of this month.

Some of the changes raised the traffic officers’ wrath, and they demanded a meeting with their management in Pietermaritzburg last week, which was said to have been heated. It also led to the temporary shutdown of the Mkondeni testing ground.

Officers in Pietermaritzburg said there were only two possible overtime shifts. They have been limited to eight hours on a Saturday and seven hours on a Sunday. The Saturday shift is from 6am to 2pm or 2pm to 10pm, and on Sundays it is 7am to 2pm or 2pm to 9pm. The 29 hours are inclusive of weekends, stand-by and callout as there is no overtime for that.

National directive

Spokesperson for the department of transport, community safety and liaison, Kwanele Ncalane, said the directive to limit spending on overtime was not their call, but a national directive from the department of public service and administration.

“If the issue of overtime is not sorted out, it could cause havoc on the roads,” said one RTI officer who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation. “We cannot work more than 29 hours a month in overtime.

"The human resource system has been set up in a way that if you work even 30 minutes above the 29 hours, you will not be paid for that. This means that there will be no traffic officers on the roads after 10pm and there will also be no traffic officers during the weekend.

'It is going to be a free-for-all'

"The message has already gone out to the public that after 10pm there are no traffic officers, so people can drink and drive. We will probably have to rely on the municipal officers. RTI staff on standby at night, if they have passed the 30 percent threshold of overtime, will not be willing to work if there is an emergency.

“We have the holiday coming up on the 21st of this month, and there will be the Easter holidays at the end of the month. The management is talking about reducing the fatalities on the road by 10 percent these Easter holidays, demanding road blocks and visible policing, but how will all that happen?”

Ncalane said: “We are engaging with the provincial government to see how we can implement this policy without disrupting operations.”

He said it was not true that major roads would be left unattended.

The Mercury