Durban and Cape Town will be the first beneficiaries of the 2010 Soccer World Cup-related roll-out of the i-Traffic system, currently in use along the Ben Schoeman highway around Johannesburg and Pretoria.

SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) toll and traffic manager Alex van Niekerk says transport minister Jeff Radebe is keen to have the system rolled out to other, traffic-congested urban centres.

i-Traffic is an integrated system of CCTV cameras linked by fibre optic cable to a central control centre – in the case of Gauteng in Midrand. It features variable messaging boards that update motorists on delays, congestion, accidents and travel time, as well as ramp metering and road sensors.

The sensors measure speed and following distance, while the ramp meters control the flow of traffic onto highways. A pilot project will launch shortly at the New and Samrand road ramps in Gauteng.

Sanral CEO Nazir Alli told the Southern African Transport Conference that the hi-tech camera and messaging system will backbone emergency response and traffic control during the World Cup.

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.

Pricey undertaking

Alli says the agency is already assisting the Cape Town and Durban city governments with the roll-out.

He adds that Durban already has an extensive system in place. In the Cape, where such a network is still lacking, Sanral will assist the city with architecture and advice. In addition, Sanral will piggyback on the local networks there in covering the national roads in those metros, particularly the N3-N2 cloverleaf exchange in Durban.

Alli could not immediately provide any financial figures for the venture that forms part of a general upgrade of roads and associated infrastructure around all World Cup venues.

The Gauteng roll-out has a R51 million price-tag, and is in addition to several million rand being spent by the provincial government to install i-Traffic along the R21 and R24 provincial roads and the City of Johannesburg’s network along the M1 motorway.