Complaints stack up against taxis, buses

LIZAHN WENTZEL

Durbanville residents fear their suburb could be turned into a permanent thoroughfare for taxis and buses failing to stick to designated routes.

Ian Flint, vice-chairman of Kenridge The Hills Ratepayers’ Association, said they regularly received complaints about taxis using Drakenstein Road to avoid congestion in Durbanville Avenue and Durban Road.

“They cut down Drakenstein, left into Reservoir, then past Fairmont High School, and round into Kenridge Avenue, De Bron Avenue, Door de Kraal and back onto Durban Road. We have cleared it with our ward councillor that this is illegal and that no taxis are licensed to use anything else but the designated routes.”

Ward 3 councillor Andrea Crous said the designated roads in the area included Durban, Old Oak,Tygerberg Valley, Van Riebeeckshof, Jip de Jager and Lincoln as well as Carl Cronje Drive.

From page 1

“I have also received complaints from residents regarding the taxis and buses. This problem is not new, but the behaviour of the drivers makes it worse.”

Ms Crous said it would help if these taxis could be impounded, but added that this was unlikely to happen as there were only 12 traffic officers covering Bellville, Durbanville, Brackenfell and Kraaifontein.

Mr Flint said he had seen many taxis using the illegal routes.

“On one occasion, a taxi was hooting angrily at a vehicle that had stopped at a three-way stop street outside the entrance to the Rose Garden in Drakenstein Avenue.

“The taxi then tried to overtake the vehicle in the face of oncoming traffic, forcing the car to swerve onto the verge.”

He added: “We have, in the past, harassed the undermanned traffic police to come and do something. Eventually they do, but the taxis keep on coming, so the only conclusion is that the penalties are hopelessly inadequate.”

Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, said the City’s transport enforcement unit had received complaints from residents about the alleged “off-route” practices by taxis and Golden Arrow buses.

“Unfortunately, taxis stopping and ranking illegally is a problem all over the city. Traffic services conducts enforcement operations in as many areas as possible. However, given our finite resources, we are not able to be everywhere all of the time.”

Mr Smith said the City was considering using bollards or other mechanisms to stop illegal ranking.

“The City calls on residents to assist traffic officers by reporting any traffic issues in order to assist in directing our enforcement operations.”

Ms Crous said she had a good working relationship with the Bellville Taxi Association and that they tried to keep their drivers in line.

“Most of the drivers take their chances. The association is working hard to try and get their members to obey the law and drive only where their permits allow.”

Bellville Taxi Association declined to comment, but offered to meet Northern News next week to give their side of the story.

Retreat Taxi Association chair, Basil Nagel, who often lobbies government on behalf of the taxi industry, said the issue dated back to when drivers’ routes had been restricted.

“This is a universal problem, whether you are in the northern or the southern suburbs. The industry is not properly regulated as there are too many structures from provincial, national to mother bodies.”

Another problem, he said, was the lack of law enforcement officers.

“During operations, officers will impound around 200 vehicles, the drivers will be fined as well as the owner. But, that only makes up for around 5 percent of the industry, which totals about 10 000 in the City.”

Ms Crous said Sub-council 3 was waiting on a report from City’s transport department about Golden Arrow buses.

“The issue is that the buses do not stay on their permitted routes. The bus-drivers and the management do not care about delivering a good service. Many residents of this ward would travel by bus if this was a caring service.”

Mr Flint said about 13 Golden Arrow buses used Kenridge as a “waiting-over” point daily.

“They come in at Mildred Road, while taking several stops along the way, causing traffic congestion. The City doesn’t seem to be able to control them and nor does the provincial government.”

The association, he said, had met with Golden Arrow officials, but nothing had come of that.

“We have recently tried charm and persuasion to get Golden Arrow to use a route and a parking place that is least inconvenient to local traffic and residents, while recognising that we need public transport and they have to stop somewhere.”

Golden Arrow spokesman John Dammert said they were an accredited operator with a contract from the provincial Department of Transport and they had repeatedly addressed complaints about where and how they operated in the area.

“We operate in the same manner in suburbs all over the metropole and will continue to advocate for the rights of our passengers who work in the area and make use of our services,” he said.

Residents have voiced frustration about the issue on the Kenridge Neighbourhood Security Facebook page.

“Just saw a full taxi on Reservoir Road in Kenridge. What can be done about this? I thought taxis have to stay on Durban Road,” a message reads.

“They are becoming a law unto themselves when they rat run through Kenridge just to avoid robots and pop ahead of the other taxis that are staying on Durban Road.

“They are not allowed anywhere on residential roads.”

Another says: “I saw a taxi coming down Door de Kraal turning into Greenfields Street. Added to the never-ending saga of the Golden Arrow buses, I fear that this might be the first of many taxis to come. Are they allowed to come into Kenridge, and if not, how can we stop them? First it is one taxi, then many, then a taxi stop in Greenfields, just like the buses.”

Mr Dammert asked that complaints be emailed to Golden Arrow to complaints@gabs.co.za with the bus numbers, times and locations.

“We will investigate every complaint and take appropriate a