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The no-nonsense approach on taxis in Cape Town has assisted the municipality in netting between 43 percent and 46 percent of traffic fines.
These amount to R78 million in income and is also the highest collection nationally.
But their counterparts, eThekwini Municipality, have only managed to collect 13 percent of traffic fines issued this financial year, which amounts to R46m.
Durban’s worst traffic offenders are taxi drivers who fail to comply with the rules of the road.
All taxi drivers cumulatively owe the city a total of R3.6m in traffic fines.
In total, three-and-a-half million unpaid traffic fines amounting to R1.3 billion have been accumulated by Durban motorists since 2005, including R100m from this year.
The city uses similar methods as Cape Town to get motorists to pay their traffic fines, like automatic number plate recognition, roadblocks, serving summons, house calls and prosecuting motorists through courts and blitzes.
Metro spokesman Senior Superintendent Eugene Msomi said the city had challenges when it came to taxis.
His reason for collecting less traffic fines than Cape Town was because our Cape counterparts had far less taxis than Durban.
“You cannot compare apples to bananas. Cape Town has less taxis than we do. We cannot arrest a driver of a taxi with outstanding warrants if they are not under the person’s name. The law has too many loopholes.
“If the owner gives us wrong information on the driver who is linked to the taxi’s outstanding warrants, it’s a mission to track the person down,” Msomi said.
Last month, disgruntled drivers went on a rampage in the CBD, demanding metro police stop conducting roadblocks during peak hours and to stop fining them for dropping off passengers along the road.
Msomi dismissed claims that metro police had been instructed to adopt a “hands off” approach when confronted with errant taxi drivers, especially after a recent violent strike by taxi drivers in the city centre.
However, JP Smith, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member, said the issue of errant taxi drivers was a countrywide problem, but they had taken the decision to heavily impound taxis.
He said because taxis were always on the road, they accumulated more fines, which he felt could be prevented if they complied with the rules of the road.
He said if the vehicle had warrants of arrest, it would not be released until the outstanding fines had been paid.
“Compliance levels have increased.
“We have intensified our traffic recollection strategies. It is also about the healthy culture of payment in Cape Town, which is also reflected in municipal accounts.
“It is important to achieve a higher collection rate and not just issue more and more fines when you are not collecting fines,” Smith said.
He said Cape Town was aiming for an 80 percent collection rate and he saw Durban’s 13 percent as an insult.
Advising Durban’s metro police, he said: “They need to be more effective, they are not enforcing the law properly.”
One of Durban’s major challenges in its ability to effectively collect fines was hampered by delays in the court system, which officials said was failing to deal with high volumes of traffic-related cases.
A council document that was expected to be tabled last week at the city’s health and safety and social services committee, stated that the execution of warrants was the main area that could contribute to encourage individuals to pay fines.
Noting the challenges, the document said the traffic collection unit was hampered by legalities at court and the number and timing of cases brought into court on a daily basis.
The document said the decisions made by magistrates with regards to individuals with warrants also stifled this process, giving an example of an individual being given a future court date despite having a warrant and a substantial amount due.
Smith said municipalities needed to build a relationship with courts and the National Prosecuting Authority.
To speed up the fine collection rate, Cape Town has secured three additional magistrates to serve 11 traffic courts and two additional prosecutors.
Cape Town’s most effective way of collecting traffic fines was done using automatic number plate recognition, or “spy cars”, for outstanding warrants of arrest conducted daily in the main city centre, side roads and townships, where roadblocks hardly took place.
“This is where we catch most of them. These spy cars drive in between traffic and detect cars that have fines and warrants.
“Once they are detected, they are pulled over and arrested, or they pay their fines,” said Smith.