Joburg ends contract with OUTsurance pointsmen for its own wardens

The City of Johannesburg has announced that it has decided not to renew a contract which provided privately-sponsored pointsmen at traffic hotspots.

The city's public safety spokesperson, councillor Michael Sun, said in a statement that the decision was made on August 5, and the last day of the contract would be on Friday.

"This comes as Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) upgraded its function and appointed an additional 180 Traffic Wardens who will be deployed to ensure that traffic continues to be managed efficiently," he said in a statement.

"This process is part of JMPD's legislative and core mandate to ensure a free-traffic flow while ensuring drive, passenger and pedestrian safety."

Disappointment

The decision was met with disappointment by OUTsurance and Traffic FreeFlow (TFF).

Traffic Freeflow founder Colleen Bekker had first approached the city with the proposal to supply privately sponsored traffic pointsmen.

"It’s a very sad day for me personally, all of the staff of Traffic Freeflow, our 36 sponsors and in particular the motorists of Johannesburg, who have come to depend on the stellar service the pointsmen have offered in getting them through sticky traffic every morning and afternoon for the past 13 years," she said in a statement.

The project currently employed 186 pointsmen to service all JPMD jurisdictions, including the CBD, Fourways, Sandton, Randburg, Midrand and Soweto.

Bekker said the pointsmen were trained by the JPMD and had served as official reserve traffic wardens.

OUTsurance has been the anchor sponsor since inception, investing over R190m to date for the free service, and a current contribution of over R20m per year.

OUTsurance CEO Danie Matthee said the announcement caught them off guard.

"We were aware that the TFF contract was expiring at the end of this month and although we had given our written commitment for another three-year term, we fully accept that it is the City’s prerogative not to continue availing itself of this free service."

Successful public private partnership

TFF CEO Bheki Zondo also said they became aware of the development at a "rather late stage".

"The pointsmen project was dubbed as one of Joburg’s most successful public private partnerships and we are extremely proud of all of the brave pointsmen and women who have delivered this hugely loved service," he said.

"TFF has created over 180 value-adding jobs in Johannesburg, the vast majority of whom were previously unemployed youth from poor communities. Most of these jobs will unfortunately be lost."

Sun said rumours of an impending "traffic chaos" were unfounded and there would be a smooth transition.

"Our position is a simple one, the interest of our residents comes first. The City of Johannesburg welcomes any constructive and beneficial partnerships with service providers through proper means. We won’t be bullied by corporates."