City of Cape Town gets tough on taxis
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Cape Town - Cape Town’s lawless taxi drivers’ days are numbered.
New laws around traffic offences, which could lead to the impounding of their vehicles, are set to come into effect by December.
JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security and social services for the City of Cape Town, is calling the amendments to the operating permits for taxis “a game changer”. Currently, traffic officials can only impound vehicles under limited conditions.
“We are in a situation where the enforcement we do is ineffective and weak. And no matter how much we do, it has a very negligible impact on behaviour with the ability to impound, because the fines simply are not paid,” said Smith.
However, when the new legislation comes into effect, a wider range of traffic offences would lead to taxis being taken off the road. This month alone, 248 vehicles ended up in the Maitland taxi pound. Over the last 16 months, 4798 taxis were impounded in the city, resulting from various infringements. Those numbers could swell exponentially if the conditions to the operating permits are amended.
Reckless driving, driving under the influence, and unroadworthy vehicles are all transgressions that could now lead to the impoundment of vehicles.
Other offences, for which Cape Town’s taxi drivers have become notorious, and which will also earn them a place in the pound lot, include:
* Driving on the shoulder of the road.
* Driving in an oncoming lane.
* Disobeying traffic channelling lines.
* Disobeying traffic signals, stop streets or pedestrian crossings.
* Touting for passengers on a route.
* Recklessly cutting in after passing a vehicle.
* Operating without a valid driver’s licence or professional driving permit.
* Hindering or obstructing traffic.
* Parking or stopping vehicles illegally.
* Leaving a vehicle abandoned on a road.
* Use of a communications device while driving.
MEC of Transport and Public Works Donald Grant said: “The only outstanding step is to complete the public consultations and publish the final conditions (for notice only) in the government gazette. It is our intention to implement the new conditions by the end of this year.”
For motorist Marisa Calvert, who commutes between Kuils River and Cape Town every day, the legislation cannot come soon enough.
“The taxi drivers make double to triple lanes in a single lane and force their way on to the main road at Botha and Van Riebeeck intersection with no regard for oncoming vehicles. Then where the R300 and N2 meet the taxis would come from the far right lane to get onto the shoulder of the road. My nerves are shot by the time we reach Jakes Gerwel Drive,” she said.
Cape Town traffic spokesperson Maxine Jordaan confirmed that “most taxi-related complaints are on the N2 during peak hours”.
Andile Kanyi, general secretary of taxi association Codeta, urged commuters to report bad driving.
“If the driver is driving recklessly, take the number plate of the vehicle and give it to us.”
Western Cape traffic chief Kenny Africa said: “When taxis are disregarding the rules of the road and endangering other people’s lives, then according the National Land Transportation Act, that permit of that taxi can be taken back (suspended).” He urged motorists to report bad driving to the 24-hour hotline number 021 946 1646.