Table View residents demand taxi solution

A taxi stopping on the corner of Blaauwberg Road and Raats Drive to pick up customers while the traffic light is green.

Table residents are demanding answers from the City of Cape Town on what it plans to do to clamp down on reckless taxi drivers.

Table View resident Werner van Tonder fumed on the Table View Frustrated Ratepayers’ Association Facebook page about a near miss he had with a taxi along Sandown Road and Malibongwe Drive in Parklands.

He said taxis on the Dunoon-bound road drove in the oncoming lane, pushing motorists off the road. The situation was particularly bad during peak-hour traffic.

“Why is there never any traffic police to impound these offenders during 6am to 8am and 3pm to 5pm weekdays? I have reported this to numerous DA members with no joy,” he said.

“This morning two taxis drove through a turning only lane, across a red robot in the oncoming traffic lane. I am reporting a crime here and very dangerous driving situations, and yet you (City members) all deem it plausible not to respond to this,” said Mr Van Tonder in his post.

Earlier this month, Table View resident Jackie Bailie described how a taxi had reversed towards her threateningly when she hooted at it for not moving through a green traffic light (“Table View taxi trouble revs residents,” Tabletalk September 7).

Table View Ratepayers’ Association (TVRA) chairwoman Mandy da Matta said it was understandable that residents were fed up because many taxi drivers ignored the rules of the road, endangering both themselves and other road users.

“There has been a spate of incidents where a number of taxi drivers have been involved in serious road accidents due to their unruly behaviour on the roads. It’s not only in this area, it is the lawlessness we are experiencing in South Africa with law agencies not able to cope with it. There are no real consequences if you are fined,” she said, pointing to “a certain amount of intimidation exercised by the taxi associations and drivers, across the country”.

While tight budgets meant law-enforcement agencies were often short-staffed, Ms Da Matta said stiffer penalties were needed for lawbreakers on the roads.

TVRA member Stephan Hippler, asked Ward 113 councillor Joy McCarthy, for feedback on what was being done to address the Table View taxi issue.

Dr McCarthy said taxis were impounded but the vehicles were released once a fine was paid.

A court could suspend the licences of drunk, reckless and negligent drivers, in terms of the National Road Traffic Act, and the still-pending Administrative Adjudication of Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) would let courts cancel repeat offenders’ licences.

She cautioned that a photo or licence plate information from the public was often not enough for authorities to act on because all enforcement equipment had to meet very specific standards.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said the City worked hard to ensure all motorists obeyed the rules of the road.

Traffic authorities impounded taxis without operating licences or if drivers flouted licence rules, but it was not possible to impound a taxi for a traffic violation.

“If that were the case, every motorist committing traffic violations would have been dealt with in the same manner. Unfortunately, public transport infringements are common all over the city,” said Mr Smith.

Traffic police could not be everywhere all the time, so the City tried to get drivers to change their behaviour. One way of doing that, said Mr Smith, was to make sure people paid their fines and the City had struck a deal with the sheriffs of the court to help it pursue outstanding warrants.

“The City is also lobbying for new legislation to ensure that vehicle owners and drivers have to give proof of address when renewing licences, so that they can be served summonses and warrants,” he said.

“Unfortunately, all the enforcement resources in the world will not eradicate lawlessness. Visible policing is important, but so too is public cooperation and regard for the law. We need all residents to work with us to create a truly safe city. We encourage residents to continue to report traffic incidents to 021 596 1999 to help us focus our operations,”said Mr Smith.