The FF Plus has serious misgivings about the viability of Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi’s emergency panic button project which is supposed to make the province safer.
Lesufi wants to use this project as one of the pillars to protect Gauteng residents against crime.
The root of the problem is, however, that the response services linked to the emergency button, like the police, state ambulances and the fire brigade, are already negatively affected by significant shortages hindering effective service delivery.
One simply cannot link expensive, newly created technology to old response systems that are on the verge of imploding.
During an oral question-and-answer session in the Gauteng Legislature, Lesufi explained how the emergency panic button project will work in response to questions posed by the FF Plus.
He explained that a company appointed through a tender process by the provincial government is busy designing the emergency panic button. According to Lesufi, the reason why existing emergency button technology can apparently not be used is because unique functions, among other things, need to be built into the emergency panic button.
He also added that the newly developed technology will also be cheaper than what is currently available on the market.
The FF Plus will conduct its own investigation into the matter to determine whether the successful tenderer is able to deliver a quality product.
The core problem remains the fact that the response services are unable to provide the necessary services effectively. The police force in Gauteng has numerous broken-down vehicles, many vehicles without two-way radios, and phones at police stations simply keep ringing with no answer.
The Johannesburg fire services frequently experience challenges with burning buildings because there is not sufficient water pressure in the city’s pipe system, as in the case of the Bank of Lisbon building that burnt down in 2018, or because of technical reasons, such as during the crisis of putting out the fire at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in 2021 when the fire brigade’s fire hoses could not be connected to the Hospital’s fire hydrants.
Emergency services personnel operating ambulances are themselves often victims of hijackings and robberies.
Lesufi’s response to the FF Plus, after the party pointed out the service delivery problems of the response services to him, was simply that he will establish service-level agreements to ensure good service delivery.
But the problem is that the police are already not fulfilling their constitutional obligations and, so, there is no reason for them to adhere to additional contractual provisions.
The FF Plus has no faith that the emergency panic button project, or any other anti-crime initiative, will be sustainably successful under ANC rule.
The ANC in Gauteng’s time of pressing buttons for careless quick fixes will come to an end with the 2024 elections.