Can’t be everywhere all the time

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security City of Cape Town

In response to the letter “Taxi drivers a menace,” Atlantic Sun, March 31:

As a complainant, Mr Freeman is well known to us, and the taxi hooting is an issue I have tried to curtail before. I have the mocking cartoons from various newspapers as a keepsake.

Taxi drivers behaving badly is problematic not only in this area or the rest of the city, but all over this country and others. Sadly, the same goes for other road users, but I digress.

The City of Cape Town’s enforcement agencies do everything possible to enforce the provisions of the National Road Traffic Act, both in the area referred to and other trouble spots around the city.

We simply do not have the capacity or resources to be everywhere all of the time and so most of our efforts are complaints-driven. I understand the frustration about incessant hooting, but unfortunately we are forced to focus on much more serious transgressions.

And, while Mr Freeman believes that we are too lenient on misbehaving taxi drivers, perhaps a review of the enforcement statistics for the area in question over the past five-and-a-half months will change his mind.

Since October 2015, the City’s traffic service has received 14 taxi-related complaints in the vicinity of Regent Road, High Level Road, Boundary Road, Beach and Portswood roads and the Regent Road traffic circle. Officers have been deployed on 52 occasions during this time, issuing 7 110 fines for a host of trans-gressions and impounding 93 taxis after drivers were found to be without valid operating licences or trading in contravention of their operating licences.

Traffic enforcement is a complex issue, and we have to prioritise our resources carefully to ensure we truly pursue the primary goal of reducing road deaths – something we have consistently managed every year, unlike other metros which have seen their road deaths soar. This requires careful prioritisation to ensure that scarce enforce- ment resources are not unduly diverted into enforcement activities that take our focus away from reducing road deaths.

In any event, the City is doing ample enforce- ment of the taxi industry and road users in general.

It is the fragility of the criminal justice system that allows the offenders to get away without paying and therefore does not change their behaviour.

We have pursued new strategies, such as agreements with the sheriffs of the court to help us pursue scofflaws, and new Western Cape government and City traffic legislation to make it more difficult for traffic offenders to evade the consequences of their actions.