Pretoria - The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) has expressed concern over the alarming increase in the theft and vandalism of traffic signals in the City.
The agency said that over the past 4 years, 531 of signalised traffic intersections have been vandalised by criminals using angle grinders to cut down the traffic signal poles causing damage worth R28.1m.
In the past year, this figure has increased to 172 vandalised intersections, with January 2023 reflecting theft and vandalism at 26 signalised intersections, and the hardest hit area being the inner city for 60% of cases.
“The JRA is facing an enormous battle to save the City’s road traffic signals from rampant theft and vandalism.
“Criminal syndicates are spreading their illegal activities across the entire City stripping our traffic signals bare for any materials that can be resold at a fraction of the replacement cost, from the traffic signal pole, copper cables and electrical components and other equipment like signal heads, UPS and controllers,” said JRA acting CEO, Louis Nel.
Nel added that these acts not only disrupt the working of traffic signals which are essential services, but also jeopardise public safety.
“The end result is a negative drain on the City’s economy with traffic congestion and unproductive, frustrated commuters as well as a possible increase in traffic collisions.
“The very furniture that is intended to prevent accidents and protect our community and road users ends up being sold to illegal scrap metal dealers for almost nothing.”
To curb the vandalism, the agency said its working with entities such as City Power, JMPD, SAPS and security organisations to ensure a more effective response.