The City of Ekurhuleni says that rampant theft and vandalism in certain areas have left the city with no choice but to cease repairs and instead replace damaged traffic lights with stop signs.

The city flagged the issue this week, saying that it suffers high costs replacing traffic lights which are mainly damaged through avoidable human actions such as vehicle accidents, theft, and vandalism.

It said it spent around R120 million fixing and replacing traffic lights in the previous financial year that ended June 2022. It can no longer afford to do this.

“The city has decided that in some incidents, damaged traffic lights will be replaced with stop signs due to limited funds,” it said.

“Although the installation of the stop signs is a temporary measure, some intersections may have the stop signs permanently.”

The permanent installation of stop signs will follow a process to di-warrant the traffic signal as per the South African Road Traffic Signs Manual (SARSM), which guides all decisions on traffic signals in the city.

“The city will continue to adhere to the 24-hour turnaround time for attending to faulty or damaged road signals to ensure smooth and safe movement of motorists.”

The city noted that there are about 1,350 traffic lights in the municipality, of which 1,127 are maintained by the local government.

The remainder are maintained by Gauteng Provincial Government. In the event a traffic light belonging to the province is faulty, the matter is escalated for their intervention.

Theft and vandalism have become major pain points for major metros in Gauteng, with the City of Johannesburg having to contend with its own infrastructure issues during various disasters as well as load shedding.

Earlier this year the metro had to delay maintenance on critical infrastructure because components kept getting stolen.

In Tshwane, maintenance has also been hampered by criminality. More recently, an illegal strike by municipal unions – accompanied by sobatage and damage to municipal infrastructure – has resulted to disrupted service delivery and additional costs.