Cape Town - Minibus taxi operators in the Western Cape have promised "all hell will break loose" if a traffic bill that encourages the impounding of vehicles becomes law.
Public hearings on the Road Traffic Administration Amendment Bill, which encourages road safety by means of more stringent actions that include the direct impoundments of all vehicles, ended last Thursday.
Parts of the bill will give transport MEC Donald Grant the power to make regulations for the impoundments of vehicles for certain road traffic offences. These include illegal street racing, unroadworthy motor vehicles, unregistered vehicles, vehicles with missing or false number plates, and driving a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s licence.
Andile Khanyi, secretary of the Congress for Democratic Taxi Associations, said the bill was aimed at taxi operators, who have always in been in the firing line.
“What frustrates me is we are never involved in the decision-making process," he said. "We are adding to the economy, we are running our businesses and getting people to work and wherever else they have to be.
"We are always being targeted and this should stop. Our drivers have licences and their vehicles are roadworthy. If laws like this are being processed we should be consulted."
“We are going to block roads and bring this city to a standstill if needs be,” Khanyi added.
'Every single vehicle can be impounded'
Grant emphasised that the proposed laws are not to target taxi drivers, but all motorists.
“I know that there are taxi associations that are unhappy because they have not been consulted," Grant said. "But the proposed law is not to target taxis. It’s not targeting anyone; every single vehicle can be impounded.
"We have been working through the national taxi council because if we go to certain taxi associations, we are going to have bigger problems," he added. "At the moment taxi organisations are sorting out their leadership matters. If any taxi driver or association breaks the law, the law will deal with them."
Provincial standing committee on transport chairman Nceba Hinana said public hearings were held in George, Worcester, Cape Town, and Piketberg.
“The threat of impoundments seeks to dissuade road users from committing traffic offences, and from operating vehicles which are not roadworthy and dangerous," he said. "Applying impoundments as a deterrent will thus be an additional measure to counter poor adherence to traffic laws.
ANC Western Cape spokesperson on transport and public works Cameron Dugmore said the bill overlapped existing legislation.
“Public transport has its own set of legislation," he said, "which makes provision for the impoundments of public transport vehicles. My fear is that the proposed law will be overlapping on the national laws. We, however, support all efforts to make roads safer,” he said.
Stakeholders have until November 27 to hand in submissions at the Western Cape Legislature.