File picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Media.
Durban – Taxi industry bosses are not waiting for the government to intervene after a spate of crashes that have claimed the lives of several schoolchildren in recent weeks.

Yesterday, they vowed to come down hard on reckless employees they felt were tarnishing the industry.

It comes as a Cato Manor family prepares to bury their son who was run over by a taxi on Booth Road on Friday when he was chasing his soccer ball.

The taxi driver is expected to appear in court next month.

On the first day of school, five pupils were killed when a taxi ploughed into a municipal bus in Ntuzuma.

Thabisho Molelekwa, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) spokesperson, said they planned to become friends of the court and would do everything in their power to make sure drivers who were at fault faced the full might of the law.

He said when they made their submission to the courts, they would argue for the harsh punishment.

This would be in addition to the disciplinary processes the organisation would take against drivers.

He said the industry was still coming up with a plan to reduce crashes in the wake of a recent statistic that showed that 10% of all crashes during the past festive season involved taxis.

He said what made it worse was that taxis carried many people, meaning the number of deaths and injuries would be high. He did, however, say that not all taxi drivers broke the rules of the road.

Theo Malele, the National Taxi Alliance spokesperson, said drivers who chose not to follow the rules of the road gave the taxi industry a bad name. Malele said what was needed was a complete overhaul of the industry.

He said the government and various associations should come together and have a plan of action they could implement. Unless this was done, the carnage on the roads would continue, he said.

He said they would discuss the recent deadly crashes at their next meeting. Malele also said drivers should be punished if they broke the law.

Vee Gani, chairperson of the Parents’ Association of KwaZulu-Natal, said taxis were the only mode of transport for many children.

“While there are laws governing the use of the road, especially with taxis, there appears to be no consideration for other road users and their passengers. The laws must be strengthened so that taxi drivers, if found guilty, are charged for murder,” Gani said.

“There must be stricter laws and more visible policing. I don’t think that the Department of Education can do anything here, except encourage pupils to attend schools in their area, thereby minimising the use of public transport. Parents should take the initiative of checking what transport these pupils use. If it is public transport, then they have very little control.

“If it’s private, then they need to check the details of the taxi – if the driver and the vehicle are properly licensed,” he said.

Kwanele Ncalane, the provincial Transport Department’s spokesperson, said there must be a skills programme for drivers. He said there was already such a programme in Bloemfontein and some local drivers had already been sent there. The academy operates under the auspices of Santaco.

He said they had dedicated R180million towards school transport and had distributed more than 1000 bicycles to children, preventing them from being reliant on public transport.

Daily News