The city council has adopted policies to strengthen the regulation of the metered taxi industry and deal with challenges of inadequate rank facilities as well as illegal operators.
The transportation planning management policies and procedures were formulated following a study by ITS Engineers on the supply and demand in the metered taxi sector.
According to a report that recently came before council, the service provider was appointed following an observation of an “influx of illegal metered taxi operators utilising public parking bays within the CBD”.
The City also needed a plan on how to deal with the issues surrounding home-based metered taxis (taxis that don’t have allocated ranks).
Some of the recommendations from the study were the discontinuation of the home-based metered taxi service since the operators were not adhering to their starting points — which were at their residential areas.
“The study also recommended that all home-based metered taxi permits be renewed for a two-year period only, thereafter the applicant will have to reapply to the municipality for ranking facilities as the home-based metered taxi permits would be discontinued,” reads the document.
The municipality has the sole discretion to grant or reject applications for ranking facilities, based on the demand for the service and availability of space.
ITS Engineers also recommended that 168 vehicles that were found to be operating illegally during the study be granted permits, “thereafter no additional operators will be added as the supply of the service is already at full capacity”.
This would require Msunduzi to allocate additional ranking space, however, no ranking facilities would be demarcated outside government buildings.
DA councillor Rooksana Ahmed said she was concerned that attention seemed to be focused only in the CBD, when there were also problems in areas like Raisethorpe. “There are problems because there is no monitoring and the metered taxis are taking over the public parking bays. We need to rectify that by allocating ranking facilities.”
Her colleague, Ross Strachan, said the minibus taxi industry also needed monitoring, especially those who transport pupils. He said the City needed to take a tougher stance against those found breaking the law as they put the lives of children and fellow drivers at risk.
“The transgressions happen daily because they pay a fine of only R500 for overloading and another R500 for driving without a licence.”
ANC councillor Sandile Dlamini said the transportation plan should also include the regulation of driving school operators, as they had taken to parking anywhere they liked in the CBD.
Metered taxi operators who spoke to The Witness on Wednesday said they supported the plan to regulate the industry.
Those without permits said they hoped the policy would ensure that there was transparency with regards to the allocation of ranking facilities.
“Some of us are operating without permits because our applications were rejected. I only have one car but there are people who have 12 cars and keep adding more and they are getting permits,” said one of the illegal operators.
Muzi Nsele said the issue of rank facilities had caused tensions between operators. He said those with permits had designated parking spaces so they did not have to camp outside shopping centres for passengers.
“We sit here waiting for customers that sometimes don’t come because the illegal operators grab them as they are walking out of shops.”