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In future SA citizens can count the payment of municipal rates and taxes and traffic fines at planned smart road blocks. Picture EUGENE COETZEE
In future SA citizens can count the payment of municipal rates and taxes and traffic fines at planned smart road blocks. Picture EUGENE COETZEE

Executive mayor Mpho Phalatse during a recent (21 April 2022) state of the city address announced that the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) would be reintroducing smart roadblocks. The electronics-led smart roadblocks rely on automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology to sniff out unpaid transgressions by motorists.

The system is also able identify “cloned” vehicles, and has already assisted the city to collect in excess of R14m in outstanding fines in nine weeks.

The Johannesburg metropolitan police department (JMPD) set up a roadblock and a mobile station where motorists who are found to be in arrears can process all the documentation and settle their fines using credit or debit cards, or cash on the spot.

If a motorist is unable to pay, the issuing of the warrants of arrest is possible while a clerk of the court is also present to issue summonses. The smart roadblocks are said to be capable of collecting between R20,000 and R50,000 of outstanding fines each day.

Xolani Fihla, spokesperson for the JMPD, told Motor News that smart roadblocks in the CoJ have been conducted using the ANPR system for about ten years, and these operations didn't necessarily stop, as per the mayor's statement that they are being reintroduced. 

“At the present moment, the CoJ wants to upgrade the system. The plan is to bolster resources of conducting smart roadblocks by adding three more [ANPR] buses, which are used to conduct these road blocks.

“A new service provider will be appointed to assist in the running of the system and processing of fines between June and July this year. In the future, we want these buses used in the roadblocks to assist in processing rates and taxes (municipal accounts), and licensing of motor vehicles. We also want to start printing summonses for traffic fines at the roadblocks,” said Fihla.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has indicated that motorists can also expect more roadblocks across the country’s roads as part of a push to reduce traffic fatalities. They will be scaled up starting on Thursdays and continued throughout the weekend, as these are the periods where most accidents are reported.

Speed cameras in Johannesburg have been offline for almost a year, resulting in all speed prosecutions halted.

Fihla confirmed this during an interview with eNCA, saying that  the issue also extends to handheld cameras used by traffic officers. It means JMPD is primarily relying on an increased presence and handwritten traffic fines. 

Fihla said the previous service provider contract for the cameras ended in May 2021, with JMPD currently conducting a tender process which is expected to be concluded by July.

He added that the city was currently losing millions of rands in revenue as a result, with traffic fines responsible for bringing in over R3m a month for the city before the contract expired last year.

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