Councillor submits motion to curb ‘taxi lawlessness’
Graaff-reinet residents demand action
GRAAFF-REINET — Residents of Graaffreinet have become increasingly frustrated about the behaviour of many taxi drivers in the town, as has been highlighted recently on local social media groups.
Back in February, Cllr Samantha Graham submitted a motion to the Community Services Portfolio Committee, which came about as a result of a number of complaints she had received regarding the “absolute lawlessness” of the taxis in the area.
This related not only to the minibus taxis but also the new breed of taxis that have recently started operating, namely the Avanzas.
Some of the most serious concerns are nonadherence to speed limits, stopping in the road to load and off-load passengers, parking on the pavements while loading and off-loading passengers, and constant hooting to attract customers.
For a number of reasons, the Portfolio Committee only sat on June 8 at which time the motion was tabled. Accompanying the motion was a memorandum from the Manager of Protection Services, Chris Rhoode.
In his introduction, he alluded to a number of problems that his department is facing with regard to the taxis in the area. There is only one registered taxi association in Graaff-reinet. All taxi owners should belong to a taxi association, and this association is responsible for license applications - however, the Municipality at that stage had established that there were approximately 59 illegal taxis operating in Graaff-reinet alone.
A Local Transport Forum was established in 2004 but has not functioned since 2010, despite having been mandated to deal with the issues of taxi licenses among others.
Rhoode pointed out that the Municipal Traffic Department is woefully understaffed and unable to deal with the workload. He also commented that the Head of Prosecuting Authority locally has identified some shortcomings in the bylaws, which need to be reviewed and updated as a matter of urgency.
In light of the above, the recommendations of Cllr Graham in her motion were adopted and must be implemented, with the following additions:
• That Council supports the request for more Traffic Officers when reviewing the organogram.
• That other Departments be approached with a view to assisting i.e. SAPS, Provincial Traffic and Local Road Transportation Board Inspectors.
In the interim, however, there is nothing preventing the current Traffic Officers from charging and fining taxi drivers for contravention of the Nuisance By-law.
Hooting, whistling, shouting, stopping in the middle of the road to load or offload passengers, parking on pavements, speeding or any other disorderly behaviour is easy to monitor and penalise and should be part of an ongoing program of law enforcement.
The Democratic Alliance is pleased that this motion has finally been tabled and adopted as “the lawlessness that has become the norm in the Graaff-reinet CBD is impacting on businesses and tourism, which is having a negative effect on the economy of our town”.
“This is untenable and must be addressed,” said Cllr Graham. “We cannot continue to make excuses as a Municipality for not enforcing our own bylaws or the laws of this country. Solutions must be found and law and order must be restored. We will continue to monitor the implementation of this motion to ensure that perpetrators are brought to book when breaking the law” she concluded.