The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) suspects that a syndicate is stealing SIM cards from the city’s hi-tech traffic lights, and using them to run up phone bills.
More than 400 of the city’s 600 hi-tech traffic lights — which use a SIM card, modem and GPS system to send and receive information — have been damaged. The intelligent traffic system is meant to save manpower and time by sending messages to the JRA head office when a traffic light is malfunctioning.
JRA spokesperson Thulani Makhubela told the Mail & Guardian on Tuesday that the robberies were “systematic and coordinated”.
“They know which signals to target. They clearly have information,” he said.
‘Vandalised with vengeance’
Each traffic light costs about R22 000 to fix.
“All the broken lights that have been assessed so far, about 150, have been vandalised,” Makhubela said.
Makhubela said some traffic lights damaged last year had been fixed, only to be damaged again.
“It’s like someone has a vendetta against the JRA. They were vandalised again with such vengeance.”
If all 400 traffic lights need to be repaired due to theft and vandalism, it could cost about R8,8-million.
Makhubela said the JRA was brainstorming with its suppliers about how to make the traffic lights more secure.
Cases of theft and vandalism have been opened at various police stations.