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Communication breakdown on roads could be due to outsourcing

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Communication breakdown on roads could be due to outsourcing

by Nurene Jassiem
11 Jul 2006
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

Have you ever blinked twice at contradictory traffic signs and wondered if you had read wrong? In some cases, it's not your imagination or fatigue causing you to doubt, but rather mistakes in the road markings.

The corner of Kromboom and Belgravia Roads is but one of many examples of contradictory road signage across the City of Cape Town that could be the result of roadworks being out-sourced to private companies. This information was brought to light at a meeting last Monday between Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille and disgruntled employees of the city's law enforcement division. The Traffic Department's "Whiteline Section", which is responsible for repainting faded traffic signage and erecting new signage, has been out-sourcing its work for about four years - because there are too few men to do the work. According to an employee of the Whiteline Section, the outsourcing started four years ago when people who had been working for three years on contract were told that their contracts would not be renewed.

"Before we had about 50 people working in the department. Now we are only 22 - and four of us work in the office. The work is being done, but signage is in a state because the contractors who do the work do not do it in line with the manual, which stipulates things such as the amount of thinners to be used in the paint when painting a road marking and how thick the line of the marking should be," the employee says.He says that he and his colleagues are willing to train the outside contractors to help solve the problem.

One of the implications of the outsourcing problem is that road markings fade soon after they have been painted and the work has to be redone - at the expense of ratepayers. Law enforcement on the city's roads is also suffering as a result. "Traffic officers have to issue fines if people disobey traffic signs, but if there is no red line painted on the road, we cannot issue a fine for the traffic violation," says a traffic officer, who declined to be named.

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