Hello Traffic, Bye Bye Outsurance Pointsmen

Written by on October 31, 2011 in News

Just wondering how traffic will be tomorrow when I have to drop off bachoo at school. There is an outsurance pointswoman there and she really understands the traffic in the area. Holding thumbs it won’t take us hours to get to school tomorrow.
This is what outsurance had to say about this.

Future of the OUTsurance 702 Pointsmen project in Johannesburg

31 October 2011 – This morning, 31 October, it was reported by Talk Radio 702 on air that the OUTsurance 702 Pointsmen project had been cancelled and that today was the project’s last day. The debate that followed on air, and the contributions made by the different people quoted could have left the public confused as to what is the official way forward and stance of OUTsurance with regards to this matter. In order to clear this up, we’d like to explain the story:

  • A company called Traffic Freeflow (TFF) runs the project and OUTsurance is its principal and original sponsor;
  • TFF has been operating the project over the past 6 years according to a service level agreement with the City;
  • That service level agreement expired at the end of September 2011 but the JMPD extended TFF’s operations until the end of October;
  • There are various legal challenges with regards to how this project operates within the ambit of the National Road Traffic Act which we have been aware of and had raised with the City many months ago. The main issue is that the pointsmen, who are currently “Reserve Traffic Wardens”, need to be converted to the status of “Peace Officers”;
  • Furthermore the City felt, although the project does not cost the City a cent, the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) need to be adhered to. This act governs the procurement policies of the City and all contracts that the City enters into. In order to observe these provisions, it had been agreed to between the stakeholders in September that the City would advertise a public “Request for Proposal” from companies interested in providing pointsmen services to the City;
  • It was expected that TFF would continue to operate the project while this process was being concluded;
  • TFF, OUTsurance and 702 were thus surprised when we received a letter from the City cancelling the project as of end October;
  • The stakeholders were in discussions until late on Friday evening to ensure the continuation of the project during the tender process, particularly to protect the jobs of over 200 people;
  • The pointsmen will be converted to Peace Officers over the next few days. This is an administrative process but in order to do this, they will not be able to be on the streets for the remainder of the week;
  • The City will call for proposals in the foreseeable future so as to comply with the provisions of the PFMA. TFF and OUTsurance will take part in this process.
  • It is the understanding of TFF and OUTsurance that the project will continue to operate during the proposal process.

Willem Roos, CEO of OUTsurance Holdings, comments “OUTsurance remains fully supportive of this fantastic project which contributes to the community at large. We are appreciative of the City’s and 702’s efforts to keep the project going. As in the past, we are commited to follow a robust process to put the project on a sound legal footing.”

 

What IOL reported regarding this matter

The contract for the pointsmen ends today, and according to authorities the 200 pointsmen will be taken off duty for about four days in order to undergo security screening tests by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department.

It was announced this morning that the R1.2 million-a-month contract, currently sponsored by Outsurance and Talk Radio 702, would have to go out to tender as from November 1.

According to JMPD Director Gerrie Gerneke, because of the high value of the contract, in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act, the project has to be put out on tender.

However, the JMPD would today put forward a motivation to the City of Joburg’s acquisitions department that the current contract with Outsurance be extended until the end of February, in terms of emergency regulations, because the pointsmen had become a vital service to the city, he said.

“However, in terms of municipal regulations, we will have to now fingerprint and do security checks on all 200 pointsmen. We will try to do this within three to four days. We did not do this previously because the project started on a small scale six years ago.

“But now, it has become so big that we have to appoint these people as proper peace officers and screening has to be done.”

The contract will go out on public tender to operate as from the end of February and it is likely that whoever is awarded the contract will re-employ the current pointsmen because they are already trained. However this could not be guaranteed by the city.

Gerneke said there had been consultation with Outsurance and Talk Radio 702. Outsurance pays most of the pointsmen, although smaller companies sponsor pointsmen at some intersections.

702 station manager Pheladi Gangwa said she was extremely disappointed at the turn of events.

“The JMPD cannot guarantee they (the current 200 employed by the project) will be appointed by a new company and they cannot absorb them as peace officers because allegedly they are being paid more per hour than JMPD staff and their pay cannot be lowered. The city cannot afford it.

 

“The project started on a small scale with 36 pointsmen and has taken six years to grow into the large-scale operation it currently is. It has become very popular with our station which has a culture of people phoning in with traffic problems.

“Not many other stations have the same culture and it will take a long time to build it up,” she said.

The points people currently direct vehicles at high-density traffic intersections and are affectionately known as “traffic angels”.

Most report to the same intersections on a daily basis while the rest are mobile, and are sent to where they are most needed.

The jobs were given to previously unemployed people.

Outsurance head of marketing, Peter Cronje, said it was a win-win situation for all parties.

“Through this awesome initiative we have created jobs for previously unemployed youth.

“The motorists score from the easing in traffic congestion and we score as these guys are living billboards for our brand,” he said.

Gerneke said the pointsmen would be off duty for the rest of this week, but would be back at their posts by Monday at the latest.

 

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  1. Hello Traffic, Bye Bye Outsurance Pointsmen | Ask Nanima? | Insurance | November 1, 2011
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