This morning while driving my usual N2 outbound in Cape Town I came across an accident of which looked to have involved three Minibus Taxis. Through a quick glance as I drove by it appeared that one of the drivers was slumped and not moving over the steering wheel after being hit (or hitting ) another vehicle side on.
From what I could surmise the driver appeared to be unconscious and probably deceased. Police had arrived at the scene and were speedily attending to the situation.
I, as would many South Africans could only surmise that the accident was once again as a result of the irresponsible and reckless driving to which it seems the Minibus Taxi Industry absolutely and defiantly refuses to address or acknowledge.
The scene brought to my mind the issue of just what are we as a society going to do about the scourge of irresponsible Minibus Taxi drivers who flatly refuse to curb their behavior. It is also clear that the traffic department have not been able to end the appalling behavior despite their efforts to same.
My proposal is that we need to take the choice to speed away from the taxi driver. They have a hundred fold proven that they are unable to act responsibly and drive at a reasonable speed.
We therefore ought consider new legislation that forces all taxis to be fitted with speed limiters. I did a bit of rudimentary online research and it appears that speed limiters to minibus vans can be fitted retroactively. It then becomes law that all minibus taxis are limited to a speed of 85km/h for the safety of the taxi occupants as well as the safety of the rest us road users. There is just no rational reason for a taxi to travel any faster no matter the road.
As our government have shown, through the quick draft of e-toll laws, it is very possible to move legislation through the system on an urgent basis when the motivation exists.
Taxi owners may then be given two months notice to have their vehicles fitted or have their taxi taken off the road. Taxis found not in compliance after the cut off date are removed. Taxis caught going over the limit are removed.
This law would also make the job of the traffic officer much easier. Spot checks can be performed on taxis to see that the taxi has been fitted and that the device is working correctly. Anything less than full compliance results in the vehicle being confiscated.
The industry has been given years to get its act together. They have shown that they are incompetent of doing so and are not capable of making the correct choices when it comes to their behavior. It is surely time that the choice is taken away from them.
When it comes to finances. The same approach which has been given to farmers can be applied here. The cost is a mandatory cost to which the taxi owner must pay as a cost of doing business on South African roads. Those who demonstrate that they genuinely cannot afford it can apply for a subsidy, one to which I will happily have a portion of my tax money go toward.
Perhaps a pilot project could be done in the Western Cape? If successful after a year, a roll out to the rest of the country. I welcome any comments from anyone who thinks this would not be a good idea and anyone who may have a bit of influence to take the proposal to provincial government.
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