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By Martin Williams

Councillor at City


Give us a (traffic) signal, Ma

On Monday, I invoked Winnie Mandela’s name, hoping this would jolt the right people into action to fix the traffic lights.


In preparation for Tuesday’s unveiling of Winnie Mandela Drive, previously William Nicol Drive, City of Joburg officials have been falling over themselves trying to smarten up the intersection with Sandton Drive. That’s where the grand unveiling ceremony will happen, starting at 9am next Tuesday, which would have been Winnie’s 87th birthday. As ward councillor, I was asked to provide a letter of “consent”. In reply, I pointed out this is not a matter of consent. I voted against the renaming motion in council and have repeated my objections on multiple platforms. ALSO READ: It’s official: William Nicol Drive will be…

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In preparation for Tuesday’s unveiling of Winnie Mandela Drive, previously William Nicol Drive, City of Joburg officials have been falling over themselves trying to smarten up the intersection with Sandton Drive.

That’s where the grand unveiling ceremony will happen, starting at 9am next Tuesday, which would have been Winnie’s 87th birthday.

As ward councillor, I was asked to provide a letter of “consent”. In reply, I pointed out this is not a matter of consent. I voted against the renaming motion in council and have repeated my objections on multiple platforms.

ALSO READ: It’s official: William Nicol Drive will be named after Winnie, says mayor Makhubo

“By signing this letter, I am merely carrying out my ward councillor function of confirming that I have been advised that the event is taking place.”

Correct procedures, including public participation, were not followed in the renaming. But the ANC and its lackey mayors don’t worry about such matters. Ideology and myth override everything. This renaming is a waste of money, especially when Johannesburg is visibly crumbling.

The city leaves thousands of people without water for days, but wants to spend R2 billion refurbishing its citadel of corruption. There’s not enough Joburg Roads Agency (JRA) money to fix roads for ratepayers, but ratepayers’ money is used to rename roads.

WATCH: ANC lobbies to support renaming of William Nicol Drive

The area around the Sandton Drive, William Nicol intersection, the gateway to Africa’s richest square mile, was tidied up for the recent Brics summit. As ward councillor, I was made aware of an excessive need by officials to impress the Chinese delegation.

If only President Xi Jinping would regularly visit other parts of Joburg, we might start to look more like a “world-class African City”. But alas, our Chinas are not frequent visitors. And Joburg’s dysfunctionality increases daily.

Among the obvious signs of neglect are out-of-order traffic signals. In my ward, the worst example is at the intersection of William Nicol Drive and Stirling Avenue, Hurlingham. This is about half a kilometre south of the site designated for the Winnie Mandela Drive unveiling. Those lights have been out for three months.

At times, between eight and 16 unemployed people direct traffic, chaotically. Tempers fray when self-appointed pointsmen knock on motorists’ windows, asking for money.

ALSO READ: Makhubo calls for public input on renaming of William Nicol Drive

I asked the Johannesburg Metro Police Department to manage the intersection at peak times but there are far more dysfunctional traffic lights than the number of traffic officers available. This intersection receives power from Eskom, who must coordinate with JRA’s traffic signals section to get the lights working.

Along with countless frustrated motorists, I have logged and escalated this problem repeatedly. The regional B director has also asked senior people at Eskom and JRA signals to talk to each other. All in vain, thus far.

On Sunday, possibly because of the nonfunctioning traffic lights, a car smashed into a nearby Eskom supply box, leaving dozens of households without power for days.

On Monday, I invoked Winnie Mandela’s name, hoping this would jolt the right people into action to fix the traffic lights. Who knows, by the time you read this, a miracle may have occurred.

ALSO READ: EFF welcomes Unisa renaming building after Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

As Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema famously said at Winnie Mandela’s April 2018 funeral, “I’m waiting for a signal, Ma.” Make that a traffic signal, Winnie. Asseblief tog.

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city of joburg Eskom Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

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