Taxi rank trouble

Brackenfell residents want the authorities to slam the brakes on law-breaking taxi drivers and close illegal ranks in residential areas.

The residents say there has been a surge in the number of rat-running minibus taxis speeding through their streets, causing traffic jams and breaking road laws with impunity.

Eden Park resident Susan Swart lost her son-in-law to a drunk driver in 2009, and she has no tolerance for reckless drivers.

“According to the City’s by-law, the minibus taxis should have a permit to operate on a certain routes and should also apply to the City to have a taxi rank. They can’t just do as they please.”

She wants the City to build speed humps on the roads used by the taxi drivers to force them to slow down.

“The City must tighten up its traffic laws against reckless drivers and those operating without driving licences. And the City must not focus only on taxi operators but also those who drink and drive,” said Ms Swart.

Trudy de Wet said the taxi drivers used the residential areas to beat peak-hour traffic on the main roads.

“That is dangerous to the residents because they are driving so fast and making a noise,” she said.

At last week’s sub-council meeting in Kraaifontein, André Abrahams, from the Bellville traffic department, said they were stepping up operations to tackle reckless drivers, with a focus on Protea, Old Paarl and Cecil Morgan roads, among other hot spots.

In the first quarter of the month, he said, they had impounded 48 minibus taxis and registered 521 traffic fines for various offences, including unlicensed drivers, failure to wear a seatbelt, overloading and operating without a route permit.

d there were “a lot” of minibus taxis operating without route permits, and traffic authorities had “limited resources” to deal with them.

It was all very well for traffic authorities to meet with taxi operators to iron out problems, he said, but it was the law-abiding ones who attended while the reckless ones simply stayed away.

The illegal taxi ranks also posed a problem.

“There is one at Old Paarl Road by Food Lover’s Market, the other one is at the corner of Old Paarl and Botfontein roads next to Shoprite and also by the Brackenfell station on the Protea side. And we are going to engage those taxis that are operating there in an effort to remove them,” he said without specifying when.

“We can’t tolerate illegal taxi ranks in the residential areas,” said ward councillor Marian Nieuwoudt. “People can take a walk from Brackenfell station to the industrial area. It is not a long distance. There is no need for illegal taxi rank by the station.”

One of the drivers at the rank near Food Lover’s Market, in Old Paarl Road, said they had opened the rank there because it was closer to their customers.

The driver, who, fearing reprisals, only gave his name as Sbu, said: “Most taxis here don’t have taxi ranks because we don’t belong here. We are supposed to come here to drop people then we go back to our respective areas. But the commuters forced us to wait because they complained of the scarcity of the transport in the area. “

Not all taxi drivers drove badly or were rude, he said, but many had to meet stiff targets set by taxi owners to make a living.

“Some drivers want to meet the target quickly so that they can get a commission. If the taxi owner said he wants R800 a day, some of the taxi drivers wake up so early so that by noon he has already made it, and then the rest of the day he works for himself.”