Cape Town clamps down on illegal taxis

2017-06-21 15:47
Taxis are impounded in Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Taxis are impounded in Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - A number of minibus taxis were impounded in Cape Town on Wednesday near the scene of a recent shooting and taxi blockade, as authorities clamped down on illegal operators.

"We had an operation yesterday [Tuesday] and today," said Cape Town Traffic Services' Richard Coleman.

Earlier, a convoy of taxis was spotted heading down Prince George Drive, near Military Road, in the Steenberg and Lavender Hill area.

They were being driven by officials in luminous jackets to the pound in Maitland, near the Cape Town CBD.

Coleman said the operation was held between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, and was focussed on complaints of drivers operating in areas for which they did not have a permit.

Last Tuesday, June 13, a group of gunmen opened fire from a Toyota Camry in a drive-by shooting near Capricorn, close to Prince George Drive, in an incident that may be linked to the dispute.

'Government is not listening'

The following morning, last Wednesday, about 50 taxis blockaded a section of Prince George Drive in protest over the permit and operating licence issue.

Retreat Taxi Association (RTA) chairperson Jay-Jay Maans said the SA Police Service and Metro Police needed to intervene urgently, before there were more shootings.

"After 12 deaths, we are still trying to convince government to eradicate these pirates, but government is not listening to us," he said.

The rivalry is believed to be linked to the limited number of permits and operating licences issued per area by authorities.

At present, an estimated 80 taxis are allegedly trying to muscle in on old established routes, without permits or operating licences, he alleged.

That is regarded as encroachment by established operators, who guard their routes fiercely.

"You must have an operating licence in order to transport people for a fee," said Maans.

'We have had enough'

He claimed that when taxi operators complained to police, they were told they didn't deal with the traffic department.

"They say we must get help from traffic, but when we go to traffic they tell us to go to police. We have had enough."

Part of the problem is that there are a limited number of new operating licences to go around.

Steenberg already has 57, and Retreat has 100.

He said the licensed operators were bearing the brunt of complaints about the unlicensed taxi drivers, many of whom did not follow the rules of the road.

He added that if a taxi from Retreat entered another area on a special hire - such as for a funeral - they were stopped and "fined" up to R800 by local operators for encroaching on the route.

The passengers would then have to get out and finish the journey on a local taxi.

"They don't laugh with you. You either pay, or you offload the people."

Police referred a request for comment to the traffic department.

Read more on:    cape town  |  public transport

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