Johannesburg – Nearly 4 000 taxis have been impounded for permit violations in the last 16 months in Cape Town, the city said on Sunday.
“This is a staggering statistic and speaks to the difficulties associated with regulating this industry,” mayoral committee member JP Smith said in a statement.
“It also provides a window into the tensions within the industry and the battle that registered operators have in competing with so-called pirate operators.”
Between July 2013 and mid-November 2014, 3 777 taxis have been impounded.
Of the vehicles impounded, 2 885 drivers were not in possession of valid operating permits and about 900 others were operating in contravention of their permits.
Smith said impounding taxis was difficult for police and city officials, as the vehicles were released shortly after they were impounded.
“The realities are incredibly frustrating because as soon as the vehicle is returned to the owner upon payment of the release fee, the driver is back on the road breaking the law once more.”
“I have come to know some taxi drivers by name because they are caught so often.”
Depending on the number of times the offence was committed, drivers were expected to a pay a fine of between R7 000 to R15 000 to release their vehicles from the impound lot.
“On average, 90% of vehicles are reclaimed by their owners.”
However, the Provincial Traffic Act hopes to incorporate a three-strike law where vehicles are kept by the State after the third time they are impounded.
The city also expressed concern over the number of overloaded vehicles in the city. Smith said that since the beginning of the year, 2 052 fines were issued for overloaded vehicles.
“Public safety is not a priority for many of these operators, which is why they are completely comfortable taking risks with the lives of the very people who provide their source of income.”