In the latest attempt to mitigate the impact of load shedding, Vodacom South Africa (VSA) is joining forces with the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA). The partnership, underpinned by a Service Level Agreement (SLA), aims to keep traffic lights operational at key intersections by harnessing electricity from Vodacom’s nearby buildings.
Key Intersections Near Vodacom Campus to Benefit
In the pilot phase of this collaboration, backup power will be supplied to traffic lights at intersections adjacent to the Vodacom campus in Midrand, specifically those at 13th Road, Vodacom Boulevard (entrance and exit), and Lever Road.
Vodacom South Africa’s CEO, Sitho Mdlalose, underscored the significance of such collaborative efforts between business and government in tackling societal issues. He said, “Motorists in the area can spend an unnecessarily extended amount of time stuck in traffic because of non-functioning traffic lights in the area. And when people are running late, this hinders their productivity, which, in turn negatively affects our economy.” He added that malfunctioning traffic lights often lead to increased criminal activity and road accidents, issues that this partnership seeks to combat.
Relief for Road Users Amid Load Shedding
JRA’s Acting CEO, Zweli Nyathi, shed light on the importance of roads such as Lever Road, describing them as vital connectors between suburban areas within Midrand. He expressed his optimism about the partnership with Vodacom, stating that it will “help ease load shedding traffic congestion along surrounding routes and bring relief to road users of between 2000 and 3000 vehicles traveling in both directions on Lever Road during morning and afternoon peak hour.”
Technical Details of the Initiative
From a technical standpoint, the partnership necessitates a redesign of the signal wiring at the targeted intersections by JRA, ensuring that electricity from Vodacom’s campus is leveraged during load shedding. While JRA will be responsible for infrastructure work outside of Vodacom’s campus, Vodacom will manage changes within its campus boundaries.
Mdlalose highlighted the partnership’s alignment with Vodacom’s mission to “connect people for a better future,” emphasizing the importance of collaborations with the government to tackle socio-economic challenges. He added, “We are also engaged in discussions with Eskom to explore how we can on-board more IPPs on the grid through a virtual wheeling platform”.
Growing Interest in the Traffic Signal Backup Power Initiative
The signing of the SLA has been hailed by Councillor Kenny Kunene, Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Transport, who was encouraged by the growing interest in the Traffic Signal Backup Power Initiative. He highlighted how the JRA has been inundated with partnership requests from corporates, schools, and NGOs across Johannesburg, all willing to contribute towards keeping the city’s traffic lights functional during load shedding. Kunene concluded, “This joining of hands today with Vodacom as well as the 39 other Service Level Agreements that are in progress, is a positive boost to growing our local economy as less time in congested traffic means more productive time at the office, the factory, and the school.”