Not so fast - council says cameras will stay
By Bongani Mthembu
It's official. The eThekwini municipality will not stop using hidden speed cameras to catch those who exceed speed limits.
According to a report compiled by the council's Health, Safety and Social Service cluster and presented before the executive committee on Tuesday, the speed cameras play an important role in reducing speed.
The report was compiled after an outcry from political parties and motorists who accused the ANC-run municipality of using the speed cameras as a money-making device.
The matter sparked a heated debate during a full council meeting late last year, where concern was raised that the cameras were being used to generate revenue for the council at the expense of motorists.
'Accidents occur because of driver error, which includes speeding'
Opposition parties argued that the cameras did not contribute towards changing the behaviour of motorists and called for an in-depth study on the role that cameras had played in reducing speed and accidents.
In the report, the council argues that accidents are more likely to be more serious if the speed involved is high. It states that the council is on the right track by using digital machines to monitor speed.
The municipality imported the laser speed detection devices two years ago from South Korea to track speedsters. From October 2003 to June 2005, the council made more than R92-million from speed prosecutions.
The digital machines are set at speed zone limits of 60km/h, 70km/h, 80km/h, 100km/h and 120km/h.
The council says some motorists exceed 160km/h in all zones, increasing the chances of fatal accidents.
One driver was caught clocking 207km/h in Durban in December last year.
"Speed enforcement has been around for decades, nationally and internationally. A variety of sophisticated speed reading instruments have appeared on the market and have reduced injuries to police officers tremendously, because of their advanced technology," the report said.
The report added speed enforcement within the council area was being carried out based on accident statistics provided by the eThekwini Transport Authority.
Mayor Obed Mlaba said it was not true that the council was using cameras to generate money. He said the Metro Police and other law enforcement agencies were doing a "wonderful" job in trying to reduce accidents by managing speed.
"People who were pushing us to investigate the use of speed cameras should think again because the police are really working.
"The report reveals that everything that they raised, such as educational campaigns, is being done.
"The investigations that have been done by the eThekwini transport authority show that many accidents occur because of driver error, which includes speeding," he said.