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Chatsworth councillors are planning to meet Transport Department officials, taxi owners and the metro police in the wake of two taxi accidents that have claimed seven lives in the space of two days.
Brandon Pillay, the councillor for ward 69, which includes the Chatsworth suburbs of Bayview and Havenside, said earlier this week that taxi owners and drivers had much to answer for. He accused them of pursuing profit at the cost of safety, and called for residents to take action.
“The carnage involving taxis from Chatsworth can no longer be ignored. We are saying enough is enough. We can no longer fold our arms while people are dying on our roads weekly,” Pillay said.
On January 24, two people – including a woman who was said to be pregnant – died after the taxi they were travelling in collided with a van in Higginson Highway.
Two days later, a Chatsworth taxi named the “Grim Reaper” overturned on the Inkosi Albert Luthuli (M4 Southern) Freeway, killing five passengers and injuring 13.
Pillay said: “As councillors in the area, we have identified two problems with the taxis: first, there is generally improper management of taxis where you find that taxi owners set a certain amount of money that drivers need to submit at the end of the day. So you find drivers speeding and overloadings… thus putting the lives of commuters at risk. The second cause of accidents was the reckless attitude of taxi drivers. They have that ‘I don’t care’ attitude; they don’t respect the commuters; they don’t follow the rules of the road and they don’t even recognise that the lives of commuters are in their hands. For us to decrease the fatalities, we need to start working on those two areas,” he said.
Tony Pillay, the husband of Elsie Pillay, 49, who was one of the five people who lost their lives in the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Freeway crash, said his family were trying to make sense of the accident. She was returning home from work when the accident happened.
“One moment I was chatting to her on WhatsApp, asking what time I should fetch her from the taxi stop. The next moment she was offline and an hour later a family member called saying… that Elsie was involved in an accident. I am filled with anger, bitterness.”
Kwanele Ncalane, a spokes-man for the provincial Department of Transport, said his department was open to any discussion that might lead to the reduction of road fatalities involving public transport.
“We are willing to sit down with anyone who can come up with ways of reducing the carnage,” Ncalane said.
A five-member delegation from the department, representing the MEC, was expected to attend the meeting, set for next week.
The Chatsworth Taxi Association could not be reached for comment.