Taxi fares

Minibus Taxi Cape Town / Image via Wikimedia Commons

Cape Town taxis: How legislature hampers local law enforcement

The threat to human life, as a result of this lawlessness, is blatantly clear.

Taxi fares

Minibus Taxi Cape Town / Image via Wikimedia Commons

The lawlessness perpetrated by taxi operators in Cape Town is allowed to breed because of national government’s lacklustre regulations.

This is according to the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith. During a recent interview with Kieno Kammies on Cape Talk Radio, Smith responded to irate motorists who felt that the City was not doing enough to combat the scourge of ruthless taxis. Concerns raised by Capetonians are not new and are definitely not isolated to the Mother City.

Reckless taxis a nationwide problem

The issue of unscrupulous operators driving dangerously in taxis – which are often unroadworthy – is a nationwide problem.

The threat to human life, as a result of this lawlessness, is blatantly clear. Taxi passengers, pedestrians and regular motorists end up being the victims of reckless driving – with deaths and injuries an almost daily occurrence. While the taxi industry occupies a vital place in the public transport sector, its unregulated operational custom results in mayhem on South Africa’s streets.

The City of Cape Town versus Taxis

In Cape Town, local law enforcement operations undertaken by both metro and traffic police – under the banner of a bespoke ‘taxi squad’ – are struggling to show tangible results. JP Smith says that this is not as a result of ineptitude but rather a case of flawed national bureaucracy. Citing figures related to the crackdown on taxis in the Mother City, Smith said:

“Between Hout Bay and the City, in the last six months, they have done 42 operations, 28 joint operations with SAPS and law enforcement – they impounded 64 taxis and issued 3625 fines.

 Citywide, over the last six months, we’ve impounded 2,139 taxis, issued 59,802 fines to taxis for driving offences and dealt with 22 711 PDP permit contraventions.”

Smith went on to explain that while the numbers looked good on paper, the reality of the situation was far more dire, with Cape Town bordering on the cusp of full-blown road chaos. While the City is actively increasing it’s attack on illegal taxi operations, Smith says local law enforcement’s hands are tied when it comes to enacting real change, explaining:

“Fines for taxis have limited impact. Until we have access to the new Provincial Traffic Act and are able to impound for these offences, the dynamic will not change significantly because it doesn’t amend driver behaviour. There are limited circumstances for impounding.”

Real change rests with the legislature

The Mayco member for safety and security went on to say that while the scenes on Cape Town’s roads are better than the mayhem witnessed in other parts of the country, the situation remains unacceptable, saying:

“I think the situation is out of control. I don’t think that it’s even remotely acceptable. It’s significantly better than what I see going on in Jo’burg and Durban… but it’s not nearly acceptable.”

Smith reiterated that the promise of real progressive rested solely with the Provincial Traffic Act which is currently in the works, saying:

“Until we are able to impound vehicles for routine traffic offenses, rather than just fining, we won’t change the dynamic. That’s what I’m pushing for – that’s what Provinces agreed to, that’s what the new Provincial Traffic Act will do.”