”The traffic Management services in the Province are in a shambolic state of disarray and the Head Office of the Department is the cause of this”.
This is a quote from General Findings point “K” page 263 of the report before us!
Honourable Speaker, the traffic officers of this province are getting a raw deal !
Of particular concern in the report are two main areas namely the huge vacancies for traffic officers in the province and the lack of resourcing of our traffic stations.
Traffic officer vacancy rates are as high as 81 % in Mount Frere!
This is a serious situation.
Honourable Speaker – our traffic department has lost the moral high ground towards the public road user!
How can the traffic department enforce the law, educate citizens, do public relations and oversee the behaviour of our provincial motorists when there are huge traffic department vacancies and lack of resourcing?
The vacancies and lack of resourcing alluded to in the report have been the major contributors to the low morale among the officers in the department.
All motorists in this province need the confidence and peace of mind that their safety is increased by ongoing visible traffic policing throughout the province.
It is a known and proven fact Honourable Speaker that sustained visible policing of whatever nature radically decreases crime or misconduct among the public.
Honourable Speaker, the citizens of this province must be assured that when using our roads they have peace of mind that adequate visible policing and law enforcement will assist and protect them.
Honourable Speaker this Province cannot carry on keeping peace on our roads unless a concerted effort is made to re-prioritise our budget to ensure that as many as possible of our traffic officer vacancies are filled as soon as possible and on a sustainable basis.
At present, our latest information – as of today – from the Department reveals that the strength of provincial traffic officers should stand at 1 200.
Unfortunately, also data revealed today, the vacancy rate is 721.
In percentage terms this equates to a 60% traffic officer vacancy rate in the Province.
Honourable Speaker, with a complement of only 479 traffic officers (based on information received from the Department today) urgent and immediate corrective action is needed.
This shows an officer strength of 40% in the Province.
Furthermore Honourable Speaker, if we look at the Medium Term budget in the APP it will be noted that budget allocated for this financial year is R 229,16 million and that Administration, the highest cost in this programme, is R245,18-million.
Therefore Honourable Speaker, departmental Administration gets more budget than Traffic Management in the province.
Honourable Speaker this is a disturbing trend as the outer year of the three year MTEF budget puts Administration costs at R261 026 million and traffic at R250million for the 2012/13 year.
What is also of concern is that the RTMC (Road Traffic Management Corporation) is not acting swiftly enough to ensure that the filling of traffic officer vacancies happens as soon as possible to ensure effective sustained policing on our roads.
Therefore our Departmental budget is seriously skewed if the bulk of the budget goes towards administration.
Honourable Speaker, let us focus on what the report says about resourcing of traffic stations.
Honourable Speaker, the traffic station in Lusikisiki has been declared unfit for human habitation!
How ghastly is this!
This station must be attended to immediately.
In addition, Honourable Speaker, to have officers not issued with fire arms and bullet proof vests puts the lives of these officers at risk and opens the department to legal action.
There are stations reported not to have working tools.
In the report, many traffic stations have a shortage of patrol vehicles.
In other cases reported Honourable Speaker, the vehicles are not licensed and are not in working order.
Traffic stations also report that there is a shortage of alcohol testers and therefore road blocks and law enforcement of drunken driving cannot be properly undertaken in certain areas.
Furthermore the report of several officers who have been employed at Cradock station for more than 16 years without promotion or progression adds further fuel to the departmental fire!
In addition to this, staff members who were promoted in 2006 are still paid according to old rank levels.
The establishment of the Provincial Traffic task team has added to the unhappiness and under resourcing of traffic stations because the Task team take the officers and equipment!
Honourable Speaker I refer to findings “7e” on page 252 of the report which again fingers the Lusikisiki traffic station. I quote
“The majority of Traffic officers do not have adequate uniform “
There are many other stations in the province where the report complains about lack of uniform for traffic officers.
So Honourable Speaker how must this provincial horror story be corrected?
This department needs to focus on correcting the basics.
In order to create a culture of safety for citizens through law enforcement
the Democratic Alliance would implement the following measures:
1) We would ensure that within 18 months at least a minimum of an extra 2 000 internationally trained and accredited traffic officers are employed to fill these vacancies countrywide.
The more we increase visible policing on our roads, the greater the deterrent to road users to commit traffic offences.
2) The DA would make a concerted effort to recruit, place and properly train traffic officers.
3) All non core services being undertaken by the department would be outsourced. This would free up traffic officers who normally do this work to be deployed on our roads instead of behind a desk.
4) Remuneration and quick efficient payment of overtime and decent working conditions and adequate resourcing would drastically increase officer morale and produce a good work ethic.
5) In order to expand opportunity in the force, accredited Diploma courses would be offered as additional training incentives with salary rewards to those who continually progress and empower themselves further.
6) The DA would revamp the Road Traffic Management Corporation to ensure it was adequately resourced to roll out and oversee the ongoing development of traffic officer recruitment.
Honourable Speaker, this system is working effectively in the Western Cape – there is no reason why such success cannot be copied in this Province.
Let us start winning the respect and trust of our motoring public in this province.
This can only happen when the traffic department is an efficient, well managed department.
I thank you.