Trouble in the taxi ranks

2014-08-25 00:00

ILLEGAL metered taxis are mushrooming all over Pietermaritzburg and threatening both the legal industry and the lives of many metered taxi customers.

Officials from the Greater Pietermaritzburg Metered Taxi Association (GPMTA) said over the past eight months there has been a dramatic increase in “pirate” metered taxis and with that, an increase in attacks on customers.

Many members of the public do not know the difference between the legitimate and pirate meter taxis.

“We have no control over that industry,” said Sanjay Mewalall of Wilkins taxis, who is treasurer of the GPMTA.

“Over the past eight months there have been such an influx of pirate taxis in the city … This situation could turn violent and it will bring the city to a standstill.”

He said their association received numerous complaints from customers who had allegedly been attacked and robbed while using the illegal meter taxis. “These taxis do not belong to the association, they have no cameras, they are not monitored and we cannot do any­thing about them.

“I run a legitimate business, I pay thousands of rand in advertising and these guys are just destroying it.”

An official from Metro Taxis and senior member of GPMTA said: “We have received many complaints with customers reporting that they have been mugged, drivers being rude, drunk and others taking drugs while on duty. This all happens within the illegal metered taxi industry,” he said.

“They [illegal metered taxis] are taking over everywhere, it is chaos.”

He said trouble was brewing between drivers. “If there is a passenger heading to one of the more established taxis, and the illegal taxi starts calling that customer, there is going to be friction between those two drivers.”

He said the illegal industry was allowed to thrive because “law enforcement has allowed it to thrive”.

Another operator said he was going out of business because of the illegal metered taxis. “We run a legitimate business and pay our taxes, I don’t think those illegal drivers do it. They are taking over everywhere.

“I am losing customers and already had to let some of my guys go.” He said.

Transport Department spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane could not be reached for comment.

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