Police impound 9 taxis for flouting rules
After the taxis were impounded, taxi drivers blocked the highway causing a traffic jam.
This comes after the South African Taxi Council (Santaco) announced on Sunday that they would operate at 100% instead of the 70% capacity gazetted in the Covid-19 regulations.
Last week Santaco in Gauteng held a taxi strike in that province and blocked roads as it rejected the government’s R1.1bn relief package for the industry.
Durban Metro Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad said in yesterday’s incident the taxi drivers were charged under the National Road Traffic Act for overloading passengers.
“In a taxi that is allowed to carry a maximum of 15 passengers, there was an incident where there were three people extra in a taxi,” said Sewpersad.
He said the charged drivers then decided to block the highway but Metro police officers, however, managed to clear the road.
Sewpersad said in other areas around Durban, there were no blockades but it was observed that some drivers continued operating with 70% loading capacity, while others increased the capacity to 100%.
KwaZulu-Natal Santaco’s deputy chairperson, Sifiso Mthethwa, said a number of taxi drivers in the province were fined for overloading.
Mthethwa said however that long-distance taxis travelling outside the province managed to travel without passengers having to produce permits.
“We started long ago to operate between provinces, but the only issue we had was that passengers had to produce permits.
“We are now disputing that and saying everyone who wants to travel long distances can now travel, as things are back to normal,” he said.
He said there was no going back, as most of the taxi operators were on the verge of losing their taxis.
“The government doesn’t want to give us proper assistance, yet they are issuing strong rules.
“First of all, it’s not our responsibility to provide masks, passengers should bring their own masks. We also can’t operate on 70% and still have to buy sanitisers - it’s not enough,” said Mthethwa.
Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula said there was no need for taxi drivers to go out on to the streets and cause havoc.
“There is no need to take to the streets. We can’t talk past each other. We must talk and engage to resolve this matter,” Mbalula said.
Mbalula met with the Santaco’s national executive council yesterday.
Santaco national spokesperson Thabiso Molelekwa said: “At the moment, we are going ahead with loading to full capacity until the national executive council decides otherwise.”
He said a decision will be made after the Santaco council has concluded their meeting.
Mbalula said that the plight of the taxi industry was top of the agenda when the National Coronavirus Command Council meets tomorrow.