It is a rather odd experience praising the Johannesburg metro police department for doing anything right. Particularly when, until recently, they seemed to have concerned themselves predominately with generating revenue for the department and — if allegations against metro police chief Chris Ngcobo and several of his colleagues are to be believed — for themselves.

Operation Nomakanjani, which aims to stamp out reckless driving by arresting offenders on the spot, is exactly the no-nonsense approach needed to make the city’s roads safe. In a town where traffic regulations are regarded as being for sissies, it often requires nerves of steel to get behind the wheel.

Since the start of the week dozens of drivers, including many taxi drivers — the nemesis of most motorists — have been arrested. And so far it appears the operation will go a long way to making our roads safer.

However, one cannot help wondering whether this first sign of real progress in taming the city’s roads coincides with Ngcobo’s departure last month.

Ngcobo has hardly left his office on “special leave” to allow for allegations of corruption against him to be investigated, and the department finally begins to do the work it is mandated to do in the form of Operation Nomakanjani.

While Ngcobo may claim that he has done nothing wrong, in the nine years he has headed the department he has not done anything particularly right.

Over the years he has attempted to improve the department’s image through numerous interventions. Last September he sent his officers back to the classroom for further training, as well as a spell on the treadmill to whip them into shape. However, that appears to have come to nought as there is still little evidence of an improvement.

Allegations of corruption aside, if Ngcobo’s departure marks the beginning of a new-look metro police, then so be it.