A taxi forum meeting was hosted at Sebenza SAPS on October 4 to create a better working relationship between taxi owners, drivers, and police. Organised by Sgt Sharon Tsotsotso, the meeting was attended by the metro police and taxi association members to raise mutual concerns, reports Kempton Express.
“There is a gap between taxi owners, drivers and the police. We want to bridge that gap by working together and meeting each other’s needs and to find solutions to the problems we have,” said Tsotsotso.
One of the concerns raised was the attitude of female metro police officers towards taxi drivers: “Female officers have a very bad attitude and approach towards our taxi drivers. This leads to fights with officers.”
Supt. Lawrence Mogale of the Edleen Precinct Ekurhuleni metro police department (EMPD) said they would raise those concerns and female officers would be trained on how to handle taxi operators.
Another concern raised by the taxi associations was the ‘yellow lane’ issue.
“Unlike buses, we don’t have our own routes. The community depends on us just like they depend on the police. Commuters get upset with us when we are stuck in traffic, complaining they would be late for work or school.
“Why can’t there be an exception for our taxi drivers during rush hour in the morning and afternoon?” asked a taxi association member who wished to remain anonymous.
“There is no exception at all for this,” said Mogale. “Taxi drivers break the law by driving in the yellow lane. The yellow lanes are made for emergencies only. If you break the law, you will be fined.”
Const. William Molebana of the Edleen Precinct EMPD added: “Rush hour does not mean anything to us. When you don’t drive according to the rules of the road, you will be fined. Taxi drivers should learn not to be influenced by passengers because the problem remains with them.”
The issue of licence disks being confiscated was also raised. Mogale emphasised that it was unlawful to take someone’s licence disk. He said the vehicle should rather be impounded if it was found not to be roadworthy.
The only time a licence disk can be taken is if there are three defects on the car which include an oil leak, broken windscreen, or if the car does not display number plates. A car with no brakes will be taken off the road by officers.
A major issue that could not be ignored at the meeting was corruption involving traffic officers.
“There is a ‘corruptor’ and a ‘corruptee’ in every incident of corruption,” said Samson Mmadi from the department of safety and security. “Drivers should report corrupt officers by taking their names and registration numbers at the roadblock and giving them to officials in their precinct. Officers also have a responsibility to arrest a driver who is offering them a bribe.”
Lt Johan van Niekerk, also from the Edleen Precinct EMPD, added that drivers should know the rules and laws of the road. “Most of the time, drivers get charged with made-up offences that scare the driver. This leads to them wanting to bribe because of the fear of a ‘R3,000 fine’ that does not even exist, so they would rather take out a R300 bribe to avoid paying that big amount.”
It was suggested at the meeting that taxi association members, with the help of the police and metro police, should raise awareness about laws and rules of the road.
There is a plan to have the police and metro police visit taxi ranks around Ekurhuleni to raise road awareness.
The meeting ended with the metro police informing taxi association members that it was their responsibility to ensure that their cars were roadworthy and had the necessary paperwork.
“Make sure you have details about your drivers. This includes their valid driver’s licence, ID, and address – to avoid being penalised,” said Van Niekerk.