LETTER | The taxi industry is accountable to no-one
On October 7, I was at the scene of an accident in which an elderly woman, a mother and possibly a grandmother, was killed on Main Road in Wynberg, Cape Town.
She was going about her daily business and walking on a pavement, where all pedestrians should feel safe from passing traffic. Little did she know of the events that would culminate in her last moments, her final breath.
A driver in Main Road decided to make a U-turn. An allegedly drunk taxi driver jumped a red robot, swerved to avoid the turning vehicle and took out a supporting pillar on the pavement, ultimately smashing into a shop front. I was told by police the pillar killed the woman.
I am completely saddened by this incident. Not only am I sad, I am angry.
I am angry because an allegedly intoxicated man got behind the wheel of a taxi and risked the lives of pedestrians, passengers and others drivers. I am angry a driver decided to make a U-turn on a busy road, causing danger to other drivers.
Mostly I am angry because there is a complete lack of accountability on the part of a taxi association that should never have allowed a drunk driver behind the wheel.
I wondered what was going through the taxi driver’s head when he was driven off in the back of a police van, knowing he killed someone’s mother
If this involved any other passenger transport company, there would be investigations, court cases and heavy penalties for the company. But this does not seem to apply to the taxi industry. Proof, yet again, that the industry is beyond reproach.
As I stood at the scene of the accident, I feared what was to come. What incredible heartache the daughter of the deceased mother would feel when she arrived, and how she would cope with this loss.
I wondered what was going through the taxi driver’s head when he was driven off in the back of a police van, knowing he killed someone’s mother.
As the forensics team pulled back the foil sheet, I wondered what her last thought was and if she felt fear or pain in her final moments. I could not help thinking of my own mother and how easily it could have been her lying there.
For nearly a year, I have been fighting to find solutions to the proliferation of taxis, the illegal activity within the Wynberg public transportation industry and dealing with problem buildings and slum lords.
This tragic incident was the inevitable result of the lack of strict enforcement, the lack of train services, the oversubscription of taxi licences, the rapid increase in illegal taxis and the lack of infrastructure to support the burgeoning taxi industry.
I am reminded of the words of Edward Everett Hale: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”
It is the “something” I will continue doing until I get a result. This accident and the loss of a life must count for something. This incident has quietly passed by our radar, as if it is something that happens every day, or has become our new normal. This cannot be.
I am asking the Wynberg community, every resident, every business, every organisation, from both the east and west sides of the railway line, to help me lobby for a safer, cleaner, more liveable Wynberg. You may only be one, but you are still one. One of many.
Councillor Emile Langenhoven
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