City 'regularly' tackles reckless taxi operators

2018-04-24 06:00
Nearly 45 000 fines have been issued to taxi operators since the beginning of the year.

Nearly 45 000 fines have been issued to taxi operators since the beginning of the year.

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Motorists and commuters complain about the recklessness of taxis on a daily basis. The City of Cape Town’s Traffic Service says it has issued nearly 45 000 fines to taxi operators in just over three months since the beginning of 2018.

As of Monday 9 April, officers had issued 44 937 fines to taxi drivers across the Metropole for a range of contraventions.

The City’s Mayoral Committee member for safety, security and social services, JP Smith, says the majority of the fines (9560) were for moving violations, while 8695 fines were issued for unlicensed drivers. Overloading fines stand at 6143.

“These fines exclude speeding offences, so it really does give one a sense of the level of lawlessness that happens on our roads on a daily basis. The statistics also debunk the perception that our enforcement agencies do not act against taxi operators. We have very limited resources that are stretched to capacity given the demands on them. Furthermore, this does not even represent the enforcement done against other road users, who are by no means innocent, so it certainly provides some perspective on what exactly we are up against,” says Smith.

He adds that the Traffic Service has also impounded 2426 public transport vehicles since July 2017 – an average of 269 a month. Of these, 71% of drivers did not have an operating licence and the rest were operating in contravention of their operating licences.

“Impoundment is a massive logistical exercise for us as the vehicle has to be driven to the pound by a traffic officer and the necessary documentation completed, which is time consuming. When one considers that the vehicle reclaim rate among public transport operators is 98%, it does make impoundment seem like a revolving door as the vehicle is back on the street virtually the same day or the next. We need to hurt errant operators where it hurts and that is permanent impoundment, but currently the law does not allow for this and the City simply enforces the law, we do not make it.”

In spite of the enforcement efforts designed to create a safer city as outlined in the City’s Organisational Development and Transformation Plan, he says many motorists simply refuse to pay their outstanding fines. Currently, the top 100 public transport “warrant dodgers” have amassed more than 2800 outstanding warrants amounting to over R3.3m.

“This is not surprising, but we are working hard to improve our warrant execution rates and holding motorists accountable for their actions. We have seen an increase in the number of people arrested and hopefully, in the medium to longer term, we will start seeing this intervention having an impact on the behaviour of road users.

“I call on operators to be mindful of their passengers’ safety, but also to have consideration for other road users. Nearly a third of the fines issued in the last quarter were for driver fitness. Taxi owners and associations need to reassess who they are allowing behind the wheel.”

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