Taxi recap process ‘flawed’

Residents recently discovered that a taxi responsible for knocking a teen off his bike was on a City list of surrendered taxis.

Table View residents are fuming after finding that a taxi that allegedly skipped a red light and knocked a teenager off his bike was on a City list of taxis, which they say proves it shouldn’t have been on the road in the first place.

The taxi’s licence number was found on a list of vehicles that had each been surrendered for thousands of rands in compensation for the roll-out of the MyCiTi service.

Residents have accused the City of failing to address taxi lawlessness in the suburb, and they argue that the list shows the MyCiTi compensation process was flawed.

Tensions over the Table View taxis came to a head when the 15-year-old was knocked off his bicycle in the “hit-and-run” on Saturday November 19. A witness noted down the registration number of the taxi that had allegedly hit the teen.

A few days later, residents helped to apprehend the driver of the vehicle but he was later released by the police after claiming he had not been diving the taxi at the time of the collision with the teen (“Call for Table View taxi clampdown,” Tabletalk November 30).

Now the surfacing of the list of surrendered taxis bearing the licence number of the taxi that allegedly hit and injured the teenager has only fuelled tensions between the City and residents.

The City claims to have removed 615 taxi operating licences and suspended 494 vehicles from the area, since the MyCiTi roll-out.

However, Table View resident Werner van Tonder who acquired the list of surrendered taxis from Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, noticed that the registration number of the taxi linked to the “hit and run” matched that of a vehicle on the list.

After Mr Van Tonder shared this information on the Table View Frustrated Ratepayers’ Facebook page, Western Cape Action Forum chairman Des Palm wrote to JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, demanding to know why the vehicle was still operating in the area.

“I now wish to hear your explanation for why a taxi, which was surrendered under the compensation scheme, was involved in a near fatal accident. In our view the fact that the City did not exercise due diligence in assuring this vehicle is off the road, makes them complicit in this matter,” he said.

Mr Palm said the compensation process had been “flawed”.

Residents also quickly voiced their outrage on social media.

Mike Hahn said: “(Taxis) should be off the roads. Don’t think the City deserves our trust sadly.”

Heidi Olah: “Sounds like a criminal matter this. Fraud?”

Alex Lepnik: “Yes. Only tip of the iceberg. The clean audit I questioned for years.”

Mike Clery: “This doesn’t surprise me at all. I doubt that there’s any supervision of the ‘bought out’ taxi operators at all. Half a billion rand down the drain.”

However, Mr Herron said there were special circumstances when one operating licence was surrendered for the vehicle, but not the operating licence for a long-distance service.

“Suchexemptionsare important and necessary as the MyCiTi service did not replace the long-distance minibus-taxi services. I want to reiterate, should Transport for Cape Town find that the driver of this vehicle provided a taxi service in the Table View area, this would be illegal and the City’s Traffic Services will institute a Section 79 hearing to have the licence cancelled.

“In addition, the City will institute a legal claim against the owner for a refund of the compensation paid,” he said.

Compensation for operating licences had been provided on a “case-by-case” basis, while those surrendering a vehicle had received R70 000.

The operating licence linked to the vehicle registration number residents had spotted on the list had been exempted from being surrendered as the taxi operator provided long-distance services to the Eastern Cape, said Mr Herron.

The list, he added, had since been updated showing that 121 vehicles had been exempted..