Mayor, taxi drivers meet

2018-01-31 13:30
Taxis blockade the CBD during Thursday’s protest.

Taxis blockade the CBD during Thursday’s protest. (Supplied)

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WATCH: Pietermaritzburg shop looted during taxi strike

2018-01-26 16:24

CCTV cameras captured the moment Just Take Away in Thomas Street, Pietermaritzburg, was looted during a strike by minibus taxi drivers on Thursday. Watch. WATCH

Taxi operators and the Msunduzi Municipality on Tuesday agreed to approach the magistrate’s court about the drivers’ demand that recent traffic fines either be cancelled or reduced.

The parties were locked in a tense three-hour meeting at the City Hall on Tuesday where they discussed the demands raised by the taxi drivers during last week’s strike.

The meeting took place amid claims on social media that the drivers were planning to bring Pietermaritzburg to a standstill on Thursday if their demands were not met.

However, on Tuesday the parties at the meeting described it as “very productive”. The meeting included Mayor Themba Njilo, KZN chairperson of South African National Taxi Association (Santaco) Boy Zondi, uMgungundlovu Regional Taxi Council chairperson Bheki Sokhela, taxi owners and municipal officials.

Most grievances were addressed but the operators said they still needed to give feedback to drivers before finalising a decision on the way forward.

“The industry leaders were out today with the municipality’s officials looking at off-loading areas that have been identified along [Langalibalele] Street. One of the complaints from drivers was that they were double-parking because no designated areas had been identified,” said Njilo.

Ten off-loading areas that could accommodate at least two taxis at a time were identified and marked with a yellow line on Tuesday.

Sokhela said they would be working with traffic officers to ensure that they were only used by taxis or buses so that passengers are never dropped off in the middle of the road again.

The drivers had also complained about filthy conditions at taxi ranks and the municipality committed to improve the cleaning of ranks.

On a complaint about traffic congestion during peak hours at the Edendale Crossing, Njilo said there was a supervisor present each day who would ensure that officers got there timeously and were conducting traffic effectively.

The municipality also asked for the taxi operators to ensure their vehicles were roadworthy as per the National Road Traffic Act.

The Msunduzi officials explained to the taxi delegation that the admission of guilt fines were determined by the chief magistrate and the municipality had no legal power to stipulate any other amounts on the summons.

“Since the municipality does not have the authority to reduce or cancel the fines ... we have agreed that we will approach the court to see how we can get the fines that were obtained on [Langalibalele] Street to be either reduced or cancelled,” said Zondi.

Zondi, however, conceded that their attempt might not be successful, especially when it came to violations such as overloading, driving through red lights, not wearing seatbelts and drunk driving. “The drivers have to know that we cannot force the law to turn a blind eye to violations where the lives of passengers have been placed at risk,” he said.

Sokhela added: “We will work with law enforcement officers to reduce traffic violations. In the meantime we are appealing to the drivers who were planning on striking on Thursday to wait until we get the court decision on the fines because that is now the only complaint that still needs to be attended to.”

Read more on:    taxi strike

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