GEORGE NEWS - Almost six months have passed since traffic chief Donovan Saptoe was placed on precautionary suspension on 22 October last year, accused of conduct which allegedly hampered service delivery and posed a threat to the functioning of the department.
Now, with Easter weekend on hand and strategic planning needed to manage traffic operations during lockdown, opposition councillors from the PBI and ANC fear the leaderless department may not cope.
However, Director of Protection Services Steven Erasmus assures the public that traffic services are being rendered optimally during this period.
PBI leader Virgill Gericke said the Traffic Department needs hands-on guidance, while ANC Chief Whip Nomawethu Jantjies-Gushman questioned the time span and the cost incurred in keeping Saptoe on full salary for no work.
Municipal spokesperson Chantel Edwards-Klose said Saptoe challenged the suspension and disciplinary proceedings in the labour court.
"The matter has not been finalised and is therefore sub judice." She said a senior manager has been appointed as acting traffic chief to - among other things - manage daily operations. George Herald is awaiting feedback on who this is.
Meanwhile it has come to George Herald's attention that two officials who have been earmarked for the position as acting chief, both declined to take up the offer last week.
One of the disagreements listed by one of the officials is allegedly having to report to a civilian from the administrative department within the directorate. It is alleged that this could have legal consequences.
Erasmus declined to comment on this issue, saying the municipality does not comment on internal staff matters.
On the ball
Erasmus said all operational activities are taking place effectively and within the framework of legislation. "Since the Covid-19 restriction, 11 roadblocks have been held by traffic officials of George Municipality, in collaboration with, among others, the police.
"The roadblocks form part of the Covid-19 operational plans for all departments, resulting from the disaster management plan, and various roadblocks are held daily in terms of these plans."
He said the operational plan for traffic and law enforcement, as for other departments, is updated daily by the Joint Operational Centre (JOC) as needs arise and change.
"The false information disseminated to the media during this challenging period by dishonest, opportunistic individuals is deplored," said Erasmus.
'We bring you the latest George, Garden Route news'