Cape Town - This has to be one of the scariest numbers we’ve heard in a long time: Cape Town Traffic Service has issued 44 937 fines in the first three months of 2018, just to minibus taxi drivers.

And that does not include speeding fines.

That’s an average of 499 minibus taxis pulled over and busted, every day, seven days a week, throughout the first quarter of 2018.

Here’s what they got busted for:

Moving violations9560
Unlicensed driver8695
Overloading6143
Not wearing a seat belt4211
Not displaying a vehicle licence disc1948
Unlicensed vehicle1597

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said: “These figures really give you an idea of the level of lawlessness on our roads on a daily basis - and they debunk the perception that the city is soft on taxi operators.

“And this doesn’t take into account enforcement done against other road users; we have very limited resources and they are stretched to capacity.”

The Traffic Service has also impounded 2426 public transport vehicles since July 2017; that’s an average of 269 a month. Of these three in every 10 were operating in contravention of their operating licences - and the other seven didn’t have operating licences at all.

"Impounding is a huge logistical problem,” Smith said, “because the vehicle has to be driven to the pound by a traffic officer and the necessary documentation completed, which is time consuming.

'Revolving door'

“And 98 percent of those vehicles are reclaimed and back on the street either the same day or the next day - it’s like a revolving door. We need to hit errant taxi operators where it hurts by impounding their vehicles permanently, but at this stage the law doesn’t allow that; we don’t make the laws, we just enforce them.”

With this week’s national bus strike, many more people will be reliant on the minibus-taxi industry to get to work and school, Smith pointed out. He called on taxi operators to be mindful of their passengers’ safety and that of other road users.

“Nearly a third of the fines issued in the last quarter were for driver fitness,” he said. “Taxi owners and associations need to reassess who they allow behind the wheel, considering the number of lives those drivers have in their hands every day.”

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