Vodacom will keep traffic lights near its office on during blackouts

  • The JRA has signed an SLA with Vodacom SA to keep a few traffic lights on.
  • These traffic lights are located around Vodacom’s offices in Midrand.
  • JRA says it is inundated with offers to keep traffic lights on during blackouts and 39 other SLAs are “in progress”.

As South Africans struggle with rampant blackouts in the evenings – and during the day on Wednesday and Thursday – firms are slowly trying to make the lives of locals easier.

One firm that is trying to help a few thousand motorists a day is Vodacom which has signed an agreement with the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) to keep a few traffic lights on during blackouts.

Through this newly inked Service Level Agreement, Vodacom will power the traffic lights near its Midrand campus. These include the traffic lights at 13th Road and Vodacom Boulevard (the service entrance to Vodacom’s Midrand office), as well as Lever Road and Vodacom Boulevard, the main entrance of the campus. While this is what we’d describe as the bare minimum, JRA says that between 2 000 and 3 000 motorists use these intersections everyday.

“Motorists in the area can spend an unnecessarily extended amount of time stuck in traffic because of non-functioning traffic lights in the area. And when people are running late, this hinders their productivity, which, in turn negatively affects our economy,” chief executive officer at Vodacom South Africa, Sitho Mdlalose said in a press release.

In order to keep these traffic lights on, JRA will need to redesign the signal wiring for the traffic lights in question. This redesign will allow the traffic lights to remain switched on during blackouts thanks to Vodacom’s backup power solutions.

“Class 3 arterials like Lever Road perform an important network function as they provide connections between the various suburban areas located within Midrand and act as important collectors delivering traffic to the major class 2 arterials such as New Road and the N1 freeway,” explains acting chief executive officer for JRA, Zweli Nyathi.

“Therefore, JRA is delighted with the formalisation of this partnership with Vodacom which will help ease loadshedding traffic congestion along surrounding routes and bring relief to road users of between 2 000 and 3 000 vehicles travelling in both directions on Lever Road during morning and afternoon peak hour.”

While this SLA will only benefit a few South Africans, Vodacom said that it is in discussions with Eskom to explore how it can on-board more independent power producers on to the grid through a virtual wheeling platform. Vodacom is currently exploring the ability to take its power needs off-grid but how that exploration is going is unclear.

However, in this press release Vodacom sent through to Hypertext there is a rather alarming revelation from MMC for Transport Kenny Kunene.

“JRA is inundated with requests from corporates, schools and even NGOs across Johannesburg willing to partner with the entity in keeping the City’s traffic lights on and most essentially, keeping traffic flowing during loadshedding,” the MMC said.

The fact that “JRA is inundated” with offers to keep traffic lights on and yet traffic lights remain off during blackouts is quite frankly, appalling. The MMC says that 39 other SLAs are “in progress”, but how far they are from being signed is an unknown quantity.

We hope to see these SLAs fast tracked through the relevant procedures because if JRA is being inundated with offers and there is no movement on taking those offers up, government may have some tough questions heading its way before long.


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