Main points:

  1. This is not a new problem – it has been insufficiently budgeted for and badly managed for at least 5 years
  2. 2011/12 IDP is misleading in this regard with selective recording and subsequently ignoring community views and priorities
  3. 2011/12 budget and 3 year (11/12, 12/13 & 13/14) expenditure framework is insufficient to address the problem
  4. 3 weeks after the DA forces the budget through and 6 weeks after the elections – they announce this as a critical problem.

Whilst the DA’s announcement yesterday ( of a critical shortage of staff within the City’s Traffic Services is indeed accurate, it is also true that:

  • This is not a new problem:  This shortage existed when the multi-party government took over the government of the City of Cape Town in May 2006.  Any casual observer who reads the above-linked article would surely know that this problem has not ‘popped up’ in a short space of time.
  • The DA must acknowledge that they have failed to address it for the full 5 years they have been governing the City and running this specific Department.
  • The DA did not present Council with the true and full picture when council considered the 2011/12 budget and adopted the new IDP on 8 June 2011.
  • In effect, the DA has waited until 6 weeks after the Local Government Elections of 18 May 2011 and 3 weeks are bulldozing the budget before admitting to this crisis.

Cape Town’s communities, particularly CT drivers have been complaining and suffering for many years due to the shortage of visible and effective traffic presence on our roads, the lack of enforcement of road use laws including speeding, overtaking, parking, use of cell phones, overloading, drunk driving and so the list continues.  Ongoing media reports on many road-users have outstanding fines and warrants for arrest, and the Rands value of this to the City’s fiscus, add further emphasis.  In particular, many of Cape Town’s mini-bus taxi’s are regular offenders in this regard and regularly show blatant disregard for road use laws. These are well-known, undisputed realities.

  • The City confirms in the IDP (PG 887) that, of all the community concerns expressed at Subcouncil’s public engagement processes, 59% highlighted that ‘dissatisfaction with safety and security’ is their main concern – higher than housing, road maintenance and others.
  • Furthermore, the Department agrees with this: Its KPI 6A.2 mentions “high numbers of vehicle accidents that claim countless lives…” and that there is a “culture of non-compliance”.
  • Yet, even though this long-standing critical shortage of staff has been unable to address these realities on our City’s roads, the DA’s IDP still uses phrases including “will continue to be aggressively addressed”,  “a no nonsense approach”, “increased visibility”, etc – phrases in complete contrast to the above-linked article, their own admissions and well-known realities.

For the last 5 years, what has been done has been wholly insufficient to address the problem in any substantial way, and the DA’s 2011/12 operating budget makes no improvement on it:

  • This is the first year, after 4 years of mildly increased staff budgets, that this Department is receiving NO increase.
  • In the IDP presented to and adopted by Council on 8 June 2011, under the main heading ”Facing reality:  Cape Town’s challenges” (from pg 111), NO mention is made of this critical staff shortage and NO assessment is made of its impact on road safety or the road users in Cape Town.  What reality is faced?
  • Within Strategic Focus Area 6 “Safety and Security” (from pg 210), a more realistic acknowledgement of the problem is presented and appears somewhat more in line with the Portfolio Committee’s requests for more operating budget ( pg 36)
  • Yet, the Portfolio Committees requests (supported by the Department) were ignored.  No new funding was found to resolve this crisis for the next 12 months. The council-approved operating budget (pg 118) for the next 3 years is sufficient to resolve this critical shortage and to deliver the 200+ new staff requested per year by the Portfolio Committee (pg 36) amounting to 1200 new staff in 6 years.

Capetonians deserve honesty and action from the DA.  Capetonians ought to demand the re-prioritisation and adjustment of the DA’s 2011/2012 budget in order to immediately address critical, long-standing problems such as this.  I have called for this in the 3 budget-related speeches in Council since 23 Feb 2011 when the draft budget was first tabled.

But the DA ignored these calls, the Department and the Portfolio Committee and passed the budget without making any adjustments to address this crisis that they knew existed.

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