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Most traffic light malfunctions caused by cable theft, vandalism - JRA

The JRA yesterday launched its new infrastructure protection unit, aimed at cracking down on vandalism.

Picture: Siyabonga Sesant/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) says the majority of traffic light malfunctions are no longer caused by bad weather and power cuts, but increasingly due to cable theft and vandalism.

Yesterday, the JRA and Metro Police launched their new infrastructure protection unit, aimed at cracking down on vandalism and theft syndicates.

The agency says it forks out, on average, R18 million a year to fix damaged or stolen infrastructure.

The JRA's Sean Phillips says it takes much longer to solve a traffic light malfunction caused by theft.

"Sometimes the thieves cut the pole down altogether in order to get the wires out, then we have to order new poles, we have to put in new wiring, which takes a lot longer."

He says the agency has improved its turnaround time for solving traffic light malfunctions caused by bad weather.

"We've been improving our equipment and replacing cables, replacing old controllers, which are the boxes that make the traffic lights work."

By the end of next month, the JRA says it would have completed installing its new remote monitoring system which will immediately notify its officials when a traffic light stops working.

Transport MMC Christine Walters says the theft of infrastructure has dire effects on the economy.

The agency says while the unit will collaborate with law enforcement authorities, the division also needs the community to report incidents of vandalism.