By Justus de Goede, DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Transportation:
An enquiry into the causes of yesterday’s violent confrontations at the Centurion taxi rank will unfortunately reveal the same continuous problems in this vital sector of Gauteng’s public transport system.
A recent investigation into the province’s taxi industry revealed that a toxic mix of criminal activity, disregard for laws and regulations, and deep-rooted official corruption underlie the industry.
The Centurion violence was apparently sparked by a dispute between Centurion and Tembisa operators as the latter allegedly ignored their route authorisation by dropping commuters in Centurion and taking them back to Tembisa.
Taxi operators regularly either deliberately muscle in on routes for which they have no permission or obtain illegal duplicate route permits from officials.
Lack of official regulation of the taxi industry convinces rogue operators that there will be no consequences for illegal behaviour.
In the face of rampant criminality, the police point to a lack of crime intelligence and intimidation of commuters, which guarantee that hit squads and enforcers are never fingered, much less charged, in this situation.
Centurion is likely to remain a taxi violence hotspot, as the area where the rank is located is under development, and operators fear they will either be forced to move to a much less convenient area for commuters or be given an area too small to accommodate their vehicles.
Some years ago the DA proposed that each new large development be obliged by law to provide adequate taxi facilities, precisely to reduce turf wars, but the Tshwane Metro has thus far taken no notice.
Perhaps reason could still prevail and Centurion might become a test case for a more easily monitored and controlled taxi operation.