The innocuous-looking green boxes popping up on the sides of busy roads and intersections around Pietermaritzburg are actually speed cameras in disguise.
Recently motorists have noticed the new green, metal boxes but many were unaware that they were speeding cameras.
Motorists said their confusion rose when the boxes “disappeared and then reappeared” from day to day.
The boxes are in fact new Icam traffic cameras, which are not only smart cameras but are moveable as well.
The cameras have been in operation since August and motorists report having seen them on Chota Motala Road, Edendale Road, Old Howick Road and in the Hilton area.
“These green boxes appeared out of nowhere. I have not seen any warning signs. Why are they [the municipality] hiding the cameras? Surely that, alone, is illegal?” asked motorist Suhaifa Imam.
Imam said the new look speeding cameras look “like electricity boxes”.
According to service provider Traffic Management Technologies [TMT] website, the new Icam traffic cameras weigh about two kilograms and have a laser and radar speed measuring device. The high definition camera can capture an infringement from as far away as 250 metres and can store up to 50 000 infringements. This often means that it is too late for motorists to slow down once they realise they are approaching a speed trap.
Imam said she usually sees a traffic official hiding near where the moveable camera is placed to monitor it.
The device also uses Itrack for stolen vehicles or vehicles with unpaid fines that are on the special interest screening list and alerts traffic officers to the approaching vehicle for them to follow up on. Apart from speed checking, it can also capture red light violations.
However, upon questioning officials on the new cameras, a Msunduzi official claimed the movable speeding cameras are illegal. The official cannot be identified as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The official claims that TMT was contracted in 2004 to manage the speed cameras, however the contract expired in 2009.
“These speeding cameras are technically illegal as the company’s [TMT] contract was not renewed. We work for the municipality yet we are doing the duties for this private company,” said the municipal official.
The official further alleged that money brought in via the speeding cameras is “not always” accounted for.
“There is always the case of on-the-spot fines which cannot be controlled,” the official added.
However, Msunduzi municipality maintains the movable cameras are legal and were installed to “keep roads safer”.
“This is not undercover trapping of speedsters, but is just a new look for the cameras. The city manages and issues the fines,” said municipal acting spokesperson Nqobile Madonda.
The city did not answer requests from The Witness for proof of TMT’s renewed contract, however. Process manager of the city’s risk management, Kwenza Khumalo said that the city was “tired” of answering questions from media surrounding TMT and will be meeting with managers to discuss the way forward.
In a recent article in The Witness, TMT came under fire for allegedly using “blackmail-type” tactics to get Pietermaritzburg residents to pay their speeding fines.