A recent study done by the DA has shown that a huge amount of police vehicles are currently sitting in repair shops. Out of 48 247 cop cars nationally, over 8 000 are currently out of service and being repaired. Over 2 000 are out of action in Gauteng, whereas there are over 1 500 in the Eastern Cape. This number means that there is only one car for every five police officers. Some of the cars have been sitting in repair shops for months, waiting to be repaired.
Ordinary Citizens Are Greatly Impacted
With this great number of cars out of service, it translates into ordinary citizens like you and me being affected. The reduced number of cop cars available makes it tougher and tougher for the police to respond to incidents timeously. This, together with spiking crime, translates into delayed emergency services. In many cases, all available cars are dispatched to scenes and a waiting list is created. This, therefore, creates a backlog and increases the amount of time a situation can be responded to. This could obviously be detrimental in life-threatening situations.
DA shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele, decried the situation “It is unacceptable for the police to be incapacitated because of something as simple as a failure to accurately keep track of vehicle repairs. This, together with collecting the vehicles on time and run functioning vehicle repair shops has slowed the process.”
This Is Not An Isolated Issue
This issue is not the first time the country has seen official vehicles out of service. It is in fact, somewhat reminiscent of the crisis that faced the Gauteng Fire Service. Until recently, only eight of the 28 firetrucks were roadworthy, and in functioning order. The rest were sitting in repair shops, slowly rusting away, some even for years.
The Member of the Mayoral Committee of Public Safety, Michael Sun had identified the urgent need to get firetrucks back on the road. Not only was the issue syphoning funds and resources, but it was also putting the general public in grave danger. The situation was identified in September and urgently dealt with by Sun. Within a month, 29 of the vehicles had been repaired and were once again on the road.
They are, however, not totally in the clear. Early 2016 saw the award of an R109 million contract to the firefighter equipment manufacturer, Fire Raiders. Over a year later, the city is still waiting for the delivery of the equipment. In total, 29 vehicles were ordered and expected to be delivered in batches. The order included:
- Six P410 CP31 Scania pumpers
- Six P360 CP28 Scania pumpers
- Eleven 1828 Mercedes-Benz pumpers
- Six Pierce PUC pumpers