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Solar traffic lights for 400 critical intersections in Johannesburg

13 January 2009 – 400 critical intersections across Johannesburg have been earmarked for solar traffic light installation says National Energy Efficiency Agency (NEEA) operations manager, Barry Bredenkamp.

“In Johannesburg, we are expecting some major movements in the next month. We would like to see a major roll-out in this area, and still have the target of 400 critical intersections,” Bredenkamp said in an interview with Engineering News Online.

A number of solar traffic lights have already been installed in the greater Johannesburg area.

The NEEA, which uses funding from corporate sponsors for the installation of the lights, also coordinates maintenance of the lights with local municipalities and authorities.

Despite reports of decreased demand from Eskom, Bredenkamp firmly believes that solar traffic lights have a vital role to play in the traffic management of the Gauteng province.    “With cable theft and heavy rainstorms affecting robots, the solar traffic lights have proven their worth with or without load-shedding. Add to that the congestion benefits and environmental benefits,” he said.

According to Kadri Nassiep, CEO of the South African National Energy Research Institute (Saneri), the recent drop in demand “It has taken away some of the urgency, but not the need, because in many instances municipalities will still have to cut down their electricity demand.”

Solar traffic lights are often sponsored by companies wanting to ease congestion and traffic flow in and around their offices during a power outage.  

To date, four intersections in Johannesburg have been installed with solar traffic lights with an estimated cost of $34 000.  Tshwane is in the process of installing solar traffic lights at the Fountains circle intersection, and the city is hoping to install solar traffic lights at nine other intersections across the city.

Mogale City has installed solar traffic lights at 11 of its busiest intersections and Ekurhuleni is planning the installation of solar tariff lights at 11 intersections in the east of Johannesburg.  Five of these will be funded by Murray and Roberts Cementation.  The municipality is currently seeking funding for the remaining intersections.

“Traffic lights will be with us forever,” said Bredenkamp, “and wherever a new development is planned, if there is a new shopping centre, a developer has to do a road traffic management plan for that area, so they have to fund the intersections around that development, and [while] it’s not a regulation, but they should be looking at solar options”.