The Democratic Alliance in Eastern Cape is very worried about the non-monitoring of panel vans and bakkies that are being converted to taxis.
On behalf of the DA I will be requesting the MEC for Transport, Thandiswa Marawu, and her department to step up road blocks throughout the province to ensure that these converted taxis comply with roadworthy and operator regulations when ferrying fare-paying passengers.
In addition, I will in conjunction with my colleague in parliament, be requesting the Minister of Transport and the MEC to formulate national and provincial policy in this regard.
I am informed by my colleague in parliament that there is no currently no national policy to remove from our roads unsafe converted vehicles used as taxis. The safety of the public, when innocently boarding one of these unsound vehicles, is compromised.
In answer to a parliamentary question to the MEC for Transport in this regard we were informed that there were only 41 such registered vehicles in the province.
Furthermore, we are informed that no action can be taken against the drivers or operators of these vehicles unless they commit a “road offence” and can be stopped and fined.
This response is both irresponsible and weak from the office of the MEC.
Firstly, we question the validity of 41 registered converted taxis and aver that there are hundreds, conveying passengers on a daily basis in dangerous vehicles that are not registered.
Secondly, to state that nothing can be done to prevent these vehicles from being stopped and checked by traffic officials is an admission by the MEC to wash her hands of the matter and let commuters become fatalities when such vehicles are involved in all too frequent traffic accidents.
The disappointing inaction by the MEC and her department to rid our provincial roads of this dangerous scourge shows how the safety of commuters and possible loss of life is not a priority of the department.
With our provincial roads in a dire mess with neglected repair and maintenance backlogs, every effort must be made to ensure that every vehicle travelling on our provincial roads is roadworthy and safe for transporting the public.