Border inspectors use own cars
Pretoria – Transport inspectors who police taxis which operate across the country's borders are so short of funds that they are using their own cars to carry out their duties, a cross-border taxi operators conference was told in Centurion on Wednesday.
Sipho Khumalo, chief executive of the Cross Border Road Transport Agency (CBRTA), said that many of the agency's 74 transport inspectors were effectively using their own cars to carry out government work.
"This cannot be acceptable. We cannot have a situation where road transport inspectors who belong to the cross-border agency are using their money to subsidise government work."
He said the agency needed at least 300 inspectors for it to carry out its law enforcement responsibilities effectively.
"We are not effective at doing our work from a law enforcement perspective and because we are not effective we will always have those illegal operators who will continue to take chances because they know cross border (transport inspection) is not visible enough and is not everywhere it needs to be."
He made an impassioned plea to the government to secure funding to ensure that the agency could do its work. He said that without the necessary funding, the agency's work, including law enforcement would always be "minimalist".
Transport department DG George Mahlalela told the conference that many minibus taxi drivers operating cross-border routes do not have passports.
Mahlalela said research had revealed that "taxi drivers do not possess valid passports and are not prepared to incur any costs to obtain passports, as they claim their owners do not make financial and time-off provisions to acquire passports".
This resulted in the drivers "engaging in illegal operations" at border posts. He did not say what these activities were.
Cross-border operations between South Africa's neighbours were satisfactory, with the exception of Lesotho, which were "marred with irregularities".
No cross-boarder operations allowed
There were numerous illegal taxi ranks at border posts. In certain instances Free State taxi operators refused to allow minibuses to cross the border.
"No cross-border operations are allowed... due to the Free State operators refusing to allow any cross-border operations between Maseru and Ficksburg," he said.
The Free State provincial government had failed to properly deal with the issue, he said.
The conference aimed to see a formalisation of cross-border taxi corridors.
The CBRTA is a self funding agency, which collects its revenue through the sale of permits and penalties on taxi operators who break the rules. Last year it issued almost 800 cross-border taxi permits. It has an annual budget of almost R50m.