The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA), in partnership with the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), has announced that their collaboration has resulted in the arrest of two suspects posing as technicians of the agency.
The JRA has partnered with the JMPD to intensify law enforcement in the city’s roads through increased police visibility in hotspot areas, thereby reducing theft and vandalism of roads infrastructure.
Vandalism and theft are major causes of extended traffic signal outages, through the theft of copper cable, metal fittings, electronic components, power supply units and batteries.
These activities are conducted by major criminal syndicates as well as opportunistic criminals, the agency states.
Power cable theft, in particular, causes outages which take time to repair.
The JRA has also undertaken additional intervention measures to deal with this issue. To minimise the opportunity for theft and vandalism, the JRA has resolved to replace critical infrastructure with material of lesser resale value.
For example, the aluminium and steel traffic signal heads and back boards have all been replaced with nylon plastic types.
Another key measure to tackle cable theft is through the use of cables with a reduced copper content. This is achieved by reducing the thickness of the copper wire from 2.5 mm2 diameter to 1.5 mm2 diameter.
Alternative cables, such as copper-cladded aluminium cables, which have no resale value, have also been installed at some high-theft sites.
These, however, cannot be installed at all sites as the cables are not very rugged and will break owing to excessive bending.
The JRA moreover has a no-joint policy to mitigate problems caused by faulty joints. This entails the installation of a stubby (connection box), where the cables from the controller are connected to the stubbies and then a smaller cable is used from the stubby to the poles.
This eases maintenance and fault finding, where a pole can be easily isolated if there is a collapsed pole or a cable/electrical fault on the pole.
The stubby covers are, however, being stolen and, therefore, the JRA intends to advertise a design and manufacture tender to procure a different material or design that will reduce theft.