Local taxi drivers feel that the Aarto Bill is a personal attack on them. The possibility of having their licence suspended for three months means they won’t be able to provide for their families during this time.
David Monyaki, who has been a taxi driver for 13 years, said that as a taxi driver, the last thing he wants is to get involved in an accident with passengers in his vehicle. “I’m working for my children and the last thing I would want, is to get injured and not be able to provide for them. But I feel that traffic officials are putting most of the blame on taxi drivers and not on private car owners. I think they should have rather focused on the matter of drunk drivers; they are causing the most damage to society,” said Monyaki.
“People in our government are ruining our employment opportunities when they themselves are not able to create jobs. They are slowly trying to end the taxi industry, but have no solution as to what will happen to us should they succeed,” he added.
“We are going to lose our jobs, even with this new bus system they are going to implement, we don’t even know how many will get employment. Many taxi owners right now are either selling their taxis and permits, or opting to drive the taxis themselves as we are not going to be able to make the same profit as before,” added Mageu Mahlelehlele.
Tiisetso Molale added that a lane dedicated to taxis only in the mornings would be a better solution as they have to rush to make money. “It would have been better if they gave us our own lane rather, or perhaps one lane during peak hours, especially in the morning, as during the day we do not have that much pressure and afternoons passengers are not in that much of a hurry. If I drive at 60 km/h in the mornings, passengers won’t take my taxi again the next day,” said Molale.
“I drive a taxi and I feed two families. If I don’t have my licence for three months, it means two families are going to struggle. If I can’t afford school fees for my children and they drop out, chances of them turning to crime are much higher,” said DK Metlae.
Spokesperson for the Department of Police, Roads and Transport, Hillary Mophethe, said the law is law and its application is the same for all South African citizens. “The aim of this new law is to increase safety on our roads and correct driver behaviour. This demerit system will apply to all offenders of road regulations, regardless of the industry they are operating in,” said Mophethe.