95% of taxis not roadworthy, tests reveal

Published Aug 12, 2001


By Rapule Tabane

Gauteng traffic officials tested 227 minibus taxis for roadworthiness over the weekend, and found that only 10 of them, a paltry 4,4 percent, were fit to be on the road.

Officials from the Gauteng department of transport set up checkpoints in Johannesburg and in the Vaal region and took taxis to testing stations.

The head of the transport inspectorate specialising in the promotion of public safety, Alfred Mohlala, said the most common shortcoming was poor brakes.

Other defects included faulty steering and suspensions, rusty chassis, and doors and seatbelts which did not work properly.

In Johannesburg, officials tested 103 minibus taxis, of which only four passed, and in the Vaal, only six out of 124 tested vehicles were found to be roadworthy.

Officials in Johannesburg also found two confirmed stolen minibuses and four other suspected stolen minibuses.

Mohlala said: "We have a problem in Gauteng that when taxis are involved in accidents, many lives are lost.

"Once a vehicle is declared unroadworthy, the owner must go and fix the defects and then take the vehicle for a roadworthy test. But if an owner ignores the instruction and continues to carry passengers in his vehicle, he or she will lose their permit," he warned.

Johannesburg Metro Police Department spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said last night that the high failure rate was due to the stringent roadworthy requirements, in terms of which vehicles failed even for minor faults.

"In effect, that vehicle (with a minor fault) is not roadworthy," he said.

But Minnaar said the high failure rate also indicated that taxi owners were remiss in keeping their vehicles properly maintained, thus endangering the lives of the thousands of commuters they ferry.

"It definitely goes to show that the owners of the vehicles, whose responsibility it is (to maintain the vehicles), are not making sure that the vehicles are fully roadworthy.

"Taxi operators and owners must know that an unroadworthy vehicle on a public road is not going to be tolerated. Over and above that, an unroadworthy vehicle does not comply with the law. People's lives and their safety are at stake," Minnaar said.

He warned that stern action would be taken against defaulting taxi operators.

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