Heavy traffic along the N2 near Somerset West. Traffic is picking up as people are making their way back home from the holidays. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) has called on its drivers not to bow to pressure from commuters to overload their vehicles as they gear up for an influx of travellers returning from their holidays.

Spokesperson Thabiso Molelekwa said overloading had caused at least two accidents during the festive season. He said on long-distance operations, commuters at times collude with drivers to take extra people along the road to their “intended destinations” to avoid waiting longer in queues.

“On short distances, taxi passengers adhere to no overloading, but occasionally, like when people are rushing to get home after work, they say to drivers they don’t mind overloading, and drivers agree, yet they still pay full price,” Molelekwa said.

He urged commuters to immediately report overloading, to “nip it in the bud”.

“Drivers found to have overloaded, whether through an accident or being caught on the road, will face disciplinary measures,” Molelekwa said.

“If overloading led to an accident and the driver survives, it’s immediate suspension with possible dismissal.”

Meanwhile, Western Cape long-distance bus association chairperson Gordon Makaluza said it had not yet encountered problems with passenger overloading.

“We continuously meet with our drivers and teach them about dangers of overloading,” he said.

As holidaymakers make their way back to the Cape, Transport and Public Works MEC Donald Grant said he was expecting an increase in traffic volumes on highways into the province.

“I urge all motorists to be aware of this danger and to take the necessary precautions to ensure that they and their passengers are safe,” Grant said.

“Overloaded vehicles are especially dangerous. Some of the horrific crashes we have seen on our roads have had victims in excess of the number of people allowed in those vehicles.

“We must all work together to make our roads safer as traffic authorities and as road users. Our provincial traffic services are ready for the influx of returning holidaymakers, and we will be responding appropriately.”

Western Cape traffic chief Kenny Africa said they would be harsh on those who overloaded their vehicles with passengers and luggage.

Santaco urged commuters to report taxi overloading by calling, SMS-ing or WhatsApping 0634686298, or alerting traffic officials: 0219461646.

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Cape Argus