Countless people are maimed and killed in taxi accidents. The writer says education and police action is needed. Motshwari Mofokeng African News Agency (ANA) Archives
DURBAN - While our health care workers - often under difficult circumstances - cure diseases and preserve life, the carnage caused by the lawless taxi industry maims and kills people daily.

The latest episode was the mowing down of three high school pupils in Newlands, Durban, where it appeared that a taxi driver had disregarded the robot while the children were crossing the street.

What is to be done about this kind of slaughter which happens with sickening frequency on our roads?

I offer a menu of proposals for consideration by the ministry of transport and other law enforcing agencies, not as an expert but as a concerned senior citizen.

The starting point must be serious discussions between the ministry of transport and the taxi associations to bring this carnage under control.

Second, there should be an education campaign, in particular to train taxi drivers to be safe and law-abiding users of the road. Tvet colleges could provide such short courses.

Most importantly, the law must be enforced with zero tolerance, and action should be taken against the following transgressions:

* Overloading taxis, in particular with schoolchildren

* Exceeding speed limits

* Turning from non-designated lanes;

* Overtaking on solid white lines

* Stopping and picking up passengers at non-designated points, often obstructing the free flow of traffic, failure to obey traffic signals, in particular driving through red lights

* Failure to provide seat belts for all passengers

* Use of cellphones while driving.

Now that Parliament has passed a bill on licence demerit points, it should be enforced speedily and strictly. This means that taxi drivers for any road transgressions would accumulate points in addition to paying fines.

If it is similar to the Australian system, it would mean that when a driver accumulates a certain threshold of points he or she will have to take a driving test.

Attending to serious and deadly road transgressions is a far more pressing responsibility than traffic officers spending time ticketing cars parked in non-parking areas.

The use of public funds in employing additional traffic officers would be a far better proposition than subsidising a loss-making SAA.

SAA is not a strategic resource; if it cannot run without a subsidy as Comair/British Airways does, what is the rationale for its continuous bailout with huge subsidies?