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All aboard the Cape Town minibus taxi for a journey into anarchy

17 April 2018 - 14:02 By Aron Hyman
Minibus Taxi rank.
Minibus Taxi rank.

Cape Town traffic enforcement data released on Tuesday depicts “lawlessness” on the city’s roads‚ with 269 minibus taxis being impounded by officials every month.

By April 9‚ traffic officers had issued 44,937 fines this year to taxis — but officials say that ordinary road users are “by no means innocent”.

Of the taxi drivers who were fined‚ 8,695 were unlicensed drivers while 1,597 had unlicensed vehicles.

The mayoral committee member for safety and security‚ JP Smith‚ said the fines included moving violations‚ overloading‚ not wearing seatbelts and not displaying license discs but excluded speeding fines.

“It really does give one a sense of the level of lawlessness that happens on our roads on a daily basis‚” said Smith.

He said the statistics “debunked the perception” that enforcement agencies were not acting against taxi operators‚ but he said that their resources were stretched and limited.

“This does not even represent the enforcement done against other road users‚ who are by no means innocent‚ so it certainly provides some perspective on what exactly we are up against‚” said Smith.

The city has impounded 2,426 public transport vehicles since July last year but Smith said impoundment is a “massive logistical exercise” and no deterrent because vehicles could be reclaimed on the same day. He said that the ideal was to impound vehicles permanently.

“We have been working with the provincial government to expedite the conclusion of the new provincial traffic legislation that would allow for more effective enforcement strategies‚ including impoundment of vehicles for traffic offences committed by public transport vehicles‚ rather than issuing fines which are often evaded‚” said Smith.

According to Smith‚ the city’s top 100 public transport “warrant dodgers” collectively have warrants outstanding to the tune of R3.3-million.

With a national bus strike expected to start on Wednesday‚ driving more commuters on to taxis‚ Smith called on operators to keep their passengers’ safety in mind.

“Nearly a third of the fines issued in the last quarter were for driver fitness. Taxi owners and associations need to reassess who they are allowing behind the wheel‚ considering the many lives those drivers have in their hands every day‚” said Smith.