Working Better Together For a Safer N2
Joint Media Release
- Dan Plato, Minister of Community Safety.
- Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works.
- JP Smith, City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member: Safety and Security.
- Randall Cable, South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) representative.
The challenge raised by the recent increase in violent criminal incidents on the N2 between Cape Town and Somerset West has been met by all role-players working to ensure a safer environment for all road users and the communities living along this freeway.
A new priority committee which has been coordinated by Director Robbie Robberts, Director of Policing and Enforcement Services in the City of Cape Town, has seen the incidents of violence and crime on the N2 reduce dramatically, making this critical transport corridor safe again.
- South African Police Service (SAPS).
- City of Cape Town’s enforcement agencies.
- Provincial Traffic Services.
- South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL).
- Airports Company South Africa (ACSA).
- Community interests groups and road users who travel on the N2 every day.
The section of the N2 which is of particular concern stretches about 26 km between Jakes Gerwel (Vanguard) Drive and the Firgrove offramp.
The Western Cape Government has jurisdiction over 9 km on the Cape Town side, and SANRAL is responsible for 17 km on the Somerset West side.
In 2014, the Western Cape Department of Community Safety called for an urgent meeting with stakeholders to respond to a spate of criminal incidents on the N2.
This call was repeated by the City of Cape Town during meetings with the Department of Transport and Public Works and SAPS when it was agreed to establish a priority committee led by SAPS earlier this year.
Interventions at the time included more visible policing, the clearing of vegetation and improving street lighting.
Since then and especially over the last few months, criminals attacking motorists along the N2 have become more brazen. This has required all contributing agencies to increase their efforts, together, to make the road safe.
We realise the importance for all agencies to work together in the interest of everyone’s safety travelling on our roads.
Significant challenges to the road include:
- On-going damage to SANRAL fences and similar infrastructure, with an estimated maintenance cost of R260 000 a month.
- Street lighting: Due to ongoing theft and vandalism of street lighting equipment, both SANRAL and WCG have deployed security to monitor the street lighting equipment. This had come at considerable cost; however the road authorities have managed to ensure at least a 90% burn rate.
- Pedestrian: with approximatrely 18 000 pedestrian activities (travelling along and crossing) the 155 km of Cape Town’s freeways every weekday, there is a real safety concern for all road users. Over the last five years, pedestrians have accounted for 44% of deaths on Cape Town’s freeways.. There have been 38 confirmed pedestrian deaths this year thus far (1 January 2015 – 31 August 2015) compared to last year’s total of 46. Peak times for pedestrian activity on freeways are between 06:00–08:00 and 15:00–18:00 on weekdays.
The responsible authorities do on-going monitoring and put measures in place to help ensure the safety of the all road users.
SANRAL’s interventions include engineering solutions such as bridges and fencing as well as technological interventions through the Freeway Management System (FMS) which utilises state of the art CCTV technologies including thermal CCTV cameras for better night time vision and automatic pedestrian detection cameras for faster identification and reaction to assist stationary vehicles, remove objects placed on the freeway and response to any threat along the stretch of road.
Joint Operations Centre – Observations and Interventions
Through the combined efforts of the Western Cape Traffic Services, the City of Cape Town Traffic Services, Law Enforcement, Metro Police, and the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Joint Operations Centre is run from the Traffic Management Centre in Goodwood on a 24/7 basis.
Safety along the N2, however, requires all road users and pedestrians to be informed, alert and to prioritise their own safety and the safety of others. The public needs to assist the authorities to ensure compliance with the rules of the road and to play their part in reducing preventable incidents along the N2 .
Between May and September, SANRAL recorded 3 424 incidents of which nearly 88% (3 011) were linked to stationary vehicles along the N2 Fewer than 10% (295) involved vehicle crashes, 1% (38) were crime related incidents and the rest were caused by animals on the freeway, fires, lost loads and protest action.
During the last week in review, there were 227 incidents – two animal crossings, five crime related incidents, 16 crashes and 204 incidents involving stationary vehicles. Known causes for the stationary vehicles were:
- 38 incidents of motorists who ran out of petrol.
- 32 had mechanical failures.
- 20 pulled over to use a cell phone.
- 18 stopped to drop off goods or people.
- 12 had flat tyres.
We need the public to assist in creating a safer environment on the roads. This starts with all drivers ensuring their own safety behind the wheel, ensuring their passengers are safe, and ensuring the vehicles they are driving are roadworthy and suitable for the purpose they are being used for the fewer unnecessary incidents on our roads, the greater the ability of our response agencies to respond quickly to emergencies.
Stopping on a freeway is illegal; you could get a fine and you could expose yourself to danger. Do not stop on a freeway unless it is essential. Ensure your vehicle has enough fuel before you leave and that it is roadworthy.
Daily deployment on the N2 has been increased by all agencies involved in 24/7 operations. At a minimum, this comprises:
- 11 Vehicles and 16 Officers between 06:00 and 20:00.
- 13 Vehicles and 21 Officers between 20:00 and 23:30.
- 12 Vehicles and 20 Officers between 23:30 and 06:00.
In addition, senior personnel are being deployed at the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) around the clock to coordinate operations.
The JOC is under the command of a single agency at any one time, and agencies take turns to be in command. The applicable enforceable Standard Operating Procedure ensures a rapid response to incidents along the N2 and the SAPS receives support to gather the evidence necessary to prepare dockets for possible criminal prosecution.
The City of Cape Town law enforcement agencies have had numerous successes through using bait vehicles to draw out would-be criminals. They will continue to use innovative ideas to arrest criminals.
Our ability to safeguard the N2 will increase soon as ACSA has committed to contributing budget to allow for the employment of City Law Enforcement officers to be recruited from neighbourhood watches in communities alongside the N2, which would then patrol the N2 24 hours a day.
Government and law enforcement authorities are determined to address the safety concerns of the public through effective working relationships between all agencies in the short term, as well as through sustainable long-term interventions. We cannot do this alone.
On 15 September, we received distressing news of a petrol bomb attack on an Intercape bus near the N2 in Strand in which two people died and 34 were injured. We condemn such acts of violence which undermine the provision of reliable public transport and threaten the safety of commuters. Anyone with information that could lead to these criminals being arrested should contact their nearest police station as soon as possible.
They can also call the City’s Public Emergency Communications Centre on 021 480 7700 where all information will be treated anonymously.
We must do all we can to ensure that law and order is maintained on the N2 and all our roads so that crime and criminal activity do not become the order of the day, and so that offenders bear the consequences of their actions.
The plan presented here today to improve safety on the N2 is testament to how seriously we take this issue, and how resolute we are in addressing it.
Our integrated plan includes strategic deployment of officers to patrol high-risk areas and to rapidly respond to any threats. Provincial traffic interventions along the N2 will be concentrated to peak times in the morning and the late afternoon/early evening. We will be deploying 20 traffic officers and 10 vehicles every day of the week.
Our integrated action plan has been developed in partnership between the following role-players:
- Department of Transport and Public Works.
- Department of Community Safety.
- City of Cape Town.
- Airports Company South Africa (ACSA).
- community interest groups.
It focuses on increased visibility of law enforcement personnel along high-risk routes, rapid response to emergencies and road assistance requirements, coordinated and high-level supervision of operations on the ground and continued engagements between partners to ensure an integrated and effective approach.
We appeal to motorists and members of the public to assist us in any way possible to improve safety on the N2. Motorists are encouraged to be extra cautious when travelling along routes where incidents of stoning have taken place, and to report any incidents to authorities. Motorists are advised it is illegal to stop on a freeway. Make sure you have enough fuel before you begin your journey and ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy.
- Direct link to the City of Cape Town operated helpline, connected to the JOC – 021 480 7700.
- Dial 112 from your cell phone.
- SAPS – 10111.