It often seems that right after a good thunderstorm, most of the traffic lights in any city stop working. While that could be due to the rain, the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) said that weather is not the biggest factor for malfunctioning lights.

The biggest culprit, it seems, is cable theft. It is still the number one cause as to why many traffic lights aren’t always operational.

“The theft of the copper cable, relating to the traffic lights, is one of the major causes of traffic light downtime in the City of Johannesburg. Sometimes the thieves cut the pole down altogether in order to get the wires out, then we have to order new poles, we have to put in new wiring, which takes a lot longer,” the JRA’s Sean Phillips explained to Eyewitness News.

But, according to him, the Agency has been working a lot faster when it comes to fixing traffic lights that are not working. “We’ve been improving our equipment and replacing cables, replacing old controllers, which are the boxes that make the traffic lights work,” he said.

The Agency yesterday announce that it created a new infrastructure protection unit, which will be tasked with monitoring intersections prone to cable theft and vandalism, and act as quickly as possible to fix any problem lights.

According to Eyewitness News, “…the agency says the ultimate goal of the unit will be to reduce the amount of time motorists spend on the roads and increase productivity.”

In April this year, the JRA revealed that vandalism, theft and car accidents affecting traffic lights cost it a total of R880 000 a month.

[Source – Eyewitness News, Image – JRA]


Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.