Operators the real terrorists
ALWYN VILJOEN counts the bodies in the wake of extreme Jihadists and negligent taxi owners
DRIVING with the aim to kill as many tourists as he could, Younes Abouyaaqoub killed 13 people and injured over a 100 more in Barcelona last week.
Driving an overloaded taxi down the steep hills to the Msunduzi Bridge near Nagle Dam near Cato Ridge with no intention to kill anyone, Lindelani Ngobane caused the deaths of 20 people on Sunday.
He survived the crash and is currently in a critical condition in hospital.
Abouyaaqoub also survived his crash, running away to hijack a car, killing its 34-year-old owner to make his getaway. He was shot dead on Monday after a massive five-day manhunt.
South Africa cannot look forward to such a tidy solution for the criminally negligent vehicle operators and their untrained, overworked and underpaid drivers. These fleet owners are the real terrorists in our society.
Instead of bombs, they send out drivers in taxis that more often than not have brakes that are in dire need of a service.
These owners are also the habitually overloaders who are politically untouchable despite ruining South Africa’s road system by carrying as much as 20 tons on top of their maximum loads.
The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) is trying hard to ensure that the licenced taxi operators train their drivers to be more professional through its training academy.
One of the academy’s nine strategic objectives is “to improve service delivery and create a customer-orientated service within the transport industry”.
However, Santaco operators managed to make themselves a lot more enemies with recent goslows in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, as well as a violent protest in Pretoria. In Gauteng, the taxis that blocked highways around Johannesburg caused hundreds of people to miss their flights from O.R. Tambo, costing the public hundreds of thousands in rands.
That protest was against the high finance costs operators pay on taxis — a real issue that Santaco can solve by buying the thousands of taxis sold monthly directly from Toyota and passing the savings on to their members.
Instead, the council focuses on peacefully settling disputes over profitable routes between registered operators, who are themselves pulling no punches, nor saving any bullets in their battles for routes.
The drivers are behaving equally badly. In the recent Pretoria protest, taxi drivers used bricks to smash windows of cars trapped in the traffic, terrifying motorists to the point where panicked drivers tried to bash their way out off the log jam.
Perhaps these drivers misunderstood the “aggressive research and development into appropriate programmes” which the Santaco training academy has as one of its missions, alongside “aynamic” instead of dynamic modes of delivery.
The bottom line is: while operators of taxis and trucks are allowed to avoid accountability — as did the owner of the truck that killed 22 people at the bottom of Field’s Hill in Pinetown in September 2012 — South Africa will continue to see rampant negligence as small fleet owners cut costs on maintenance. • email@example.com
At this year’s Brake and Tyre Watch, held in conjunction with Hino at the RTI Pinetown Testing Station in KwaZuluNatal, officers found four of the six trucks checked were unroadworthy. Left is a typical worn tyre on a truck.
Fleetwatch publisher Patrick O’Leary said authorities need to be far more proactive in conducting brake and tyre checks.