This is how mayor Herman Mashaba plans to fix Joburg’s traffic light mess

Joburg’s executive mayor, Herman Mashaba has on Wednesday unveiled plans to tackle the city’s traffic light challenges.

Through the Johannesburg Road Agency (JRA), the city said it will implement interventions combating the challenge of traffic signal downtime at key traffic intersections throughout Joburg.

This has been made possible through the city’s recent budget adjustment – allocating R6 million to replace cabling at traffic intersections as part of the city’s no-join Policy.

“Traffic light outages are among the top frustrations for Joburg residents and visitors to our city,” Mashaba said.

“Up until now, we addressed issues of downed traffic lights by simply joining cables in the event of an electrical fault.

“Each join in the cabling of a traffic light is an electrical weakness in the circuit that makes it vulnerable to rain, electrical surges and lightening. The no-join policy launched today serves to reduce the high number of electrical faults over time for the most critical high volume intersections in the city,” the mayor said.

Starting with key intersections, JRA technicians will no longer join old cables when an electrical fault is reported at a downed traffic light, but replace it with a new one.

The city said its ultimate goal is to progressively roll out this no-join policy on a city-wide scale beginning in its 2017/2018 financial year.

“By doing this, we will make Joburg’s traffic network more resilient to the impact of wet weather conditions, lightning and electrical surges which contribute to signal downtime,” Mashaba said.

The mayor said that Johannesburg’s 2,135 signalised traffic intersections are vital to achieving the city target for 5% economic growth – providing much needed opportunities for residents.

“This said, there are a number of other challenges which need to be addressed to improve traffic signal performance in the city,” he said.

Other challenges faced by the traffic network can vary from highly complex electrical technical issues, poor quality maintenance, or theft of cables, to accidents at intersections where vehicles crash into the poles, knocking poles over and damaging the cables, Mashaba said.

The city will therefore implement the following interventions which it said will significantly reduce traffic signal downtime:

  • The implementation of a “no-join” cable policy at key intersections, to reduce the risk of technical faults resulting from water getting into joints;
  • Forging closer working relationships with power supply utilities such as city Power and Eskom, to ensure that power is restored quickly when it goes off at traffic signals;
  • Enhancing the use of a Smart Traffic System, including remote monitoring of the traffic signals, to ensure that faults are detected and repaired quickly by the JRA;
  • Establish a 24/7 Traffic Operations Centre, to ensure that the condition of the traffic lights can be monitored so that technicians can be dispatched to carry out repairs;
  • Increased traffic light security systems in the fight against vandalism and theft; and
  • Supplying mobile generators to temporarily power to intersections affected by power supply outages. This will alleviate interruptions to traffic signal which contributes 28% of daily traffic signal outages.

Mashaba said that the technological improvements will not result in any job losses. “In fact they are becoming more labour intensive,” he said.

“To date, weakness in the city transport network and infrastructure is one of the city’s top challenges – strangling our potential for economic growth,” the mayor said. “Under my administration, this will become a thing of the past.”

Read: All you need to know about Joburg’s traffic light mess

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This is how mayor Herman Mashaba plans to fix Joburg’s traffic light mess