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Taxi drivers, and owners, placed themselves clearly in the public’s crosshairs with their shenanigans while trying to force eThekwini to stop the “incovenience” of policing.
eThekwini’s City Police figures show that 3.5 million traffic fines – amounting to R1.3 billion – have been unpaid since 2005. Taxi drivers must account for a large proportion of that total.
But the point must be made that not all taxi drivers are reckless and selfish, hellbent on destruction. They play an important role in safely transporting the people of this city.
Unfortunately the conspicuous conduct of some drivers, often following the lead of owners, presents an unfair reflection of the rest.
That apparent lawlessness feeds the frustrations of those following the rules of the road and who do pay taxes, rates and fines.
Repeatedly seeing reckless driving and a disregard for the rules, with a feeling that rules are being applied differently, builds resistance to paying. In the city only 13 percent pay fines, and nationally between 13 and 20 percent.
The city promises greater effort in tracking down offenders who do not pay. Ironically the proposed steps target those in the system; payers of rates and services who are already likely to be toeing the line.
A lot will depend on the response by the city and the province as they meet taxi drivers and owners, who brought the city to a standstill with unreasonable demands.
There appears to be an attempt to construct a “political solution” which will appease taxi drivers. But the rest of the citizens are watching the proceedings, waiting to see what message is sent. If in any way it backs away from real policing of the laws, the wrong message will go out, and ordinary citizens might interpret this as a signal that “the right thing to do” is redundant.
With only 13 percent paying their fines already, that is not a message that will go down well.