The SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has completed the deployment of about 230 CCTV cameras and 49 variable messaging boards (VMB) along the main highways surrounding Johannesburg and linking that metropole to Pretoria.

Sanral toll and traffic manager Alex van Niekerk says about 200km of highway is now under continuous CCTV surveillance from Sanral’s control centre in Midrand. The Gauteng provincial government controls a separate CCTV network along the R21 and R24 and the City of Johannesburg also has its own camera network.

Van Niekerk says the Sanral CCTV network, as well as the VMB network, is now in final commissioning. The deployment, costed at R51 million, started about a year ago.

The CCTV network and the VMBs form part of an intelligent traffic (i-traffic) scheme that also includes ramp metering and road sensors. The VMBs update motorists on delays, congestion, accidents and travel time. The sensors measure speed and following distance, while the ramp meters control the flow of traffic onto highways.

Sanral CEO Nazir Ali last year said i-traffic will provide “backbone emergency response and traffic control during the Soccer World Cup”, now just 24 months away.

The system will provide real-time traffic information to law enforcement authorities, as well as World Cup transport managers. It will also allow emergency services controllers to evaluate the severity of accidents and breakdowns, and react to them as quickly as possible.

Separately, Sanral is completing work on the tenders for a controversial scheme to toll Gauteng’s major highways, using an e-tolling solution. The tolls will help pay for an R11.5 billion upgrade of the roads, currently under way.

Meanwhile, ownership of the once-controversial electronic national traffic information system (eNatis) is migrating from the Department of Transport’s project office to the Road Traffic Management Corporation. The R408 million vehicle and licence registration system went “live” in April last year and was quickly overwhelmed by user demand, causing endless frustration, initially made worse by poor public relations that cast a pall over the project that has still not entirely dissipated.