FIVE months after Nelson Mandela Bay’s metro police unit was meant to be up and running, the city has taken a step back, and has set up a second task team to investigate the feasibility of having the unit.
This could stall the establishment of the metro cops, already delayed for four years, by another year.
Councillors will today discuss the establishment of a second task team which was formed in March. The new probe comes despite the first task team’s findings that the metro cops were viable.
That team’s report was given the thumbs up by council in 2009 and signed off by Safety and Security MEC Helen Sauls-August who went on to publish it in the Eastern Cape Government Gazette in January.
She then said the metro unit would begin operating in February. However, the unit was not launched because the municipality had no money.
Meanwhile, the metro’s police project director, Trish Armstrong, was given the boot in February after she allegedly violated conditions stipulated in her employment agreement.
Armstrong is fighting her dismissal at the CCMA and a verdict is expected later this week.
A report in a municipal public accounts committee agenda, which will be discussed in a meeting today, states that acting municipal manager Themba Hani established a new task team in March to "investigate the establishment of the municipal police service under all conditions”.
The new team will investigate the viability of a metro police unit, as well as the budget implications of combining the budget of the traffic and security departments to get the project off the ground.
While Armstrong and her team, in their report to Sauls-August, already ironed out the finer details of the duties of the metro police, their uniforms and ranking, the municipality wants to start the entire process afresh.
Armstrong said previously the municipality would not bear any costs during the initial roll-out phase as the combined budget of the traffic and security departments would be used to get the project off the ground.
She said the municipality had a lot of assets, which meant it would not have to buy new vehicles.
The municipality is now adamant, however, that there will be costs associated with the establishment of the metro police, including expenses in remarking the vehicles, buying uniforms and insignia, ensuring there is an adequate 24-hour working system and appointing a metro police chief and three deputies.
The acting executive director for corporate services, Tembisa Nompandana, recommended that no further cuts be made to the safety and security department’s budget.
She also wants a detailed benchmarking study undertaken of the municipal police units at the Gauteng metropolitan municipalities.