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Tshwane taxi drivers planning gridlock in CBD over traffic fines

The taxi drivers of Tshwane Metro will be embarking on a go-slow on Wednesday, 16 August to protest their enforcement ticket fines.

A photo of a notice directed to all taxi drivers in Pretoria has been going around social media. “We as drivers of Mamelodi we decided [sic] for a march to hand over a memorandum to our Mayor at Tshwane House,” it said. According to the notice, drivers want the municipality to cancel their tickets like they have done in Johannesburg and Durban.

Dinoh Nkogatse, one of the taxi drivers organising the protest, told The Daily Vox the tickets they get are for obstructing traffic by stopping in undesignated spots to pick up or offload passengers. He said there are no bus stops or taxi ranks in town. “We’re working for our kids, not those tickets. We don’t want to stop on the road. They should’ve made bus stops,” he said.

Drivers say their fines range between R20 000 and R100 000, and that they are currently driving with expired licences because they can’t renew them until they’ve paid off the fines. Nkogatse says that they are stuck having to work without licences. “We don’t have licences and if they find us driving without licences, it’s another ticket. When we go to the traffic department, they can’t issue with a licence. They say you must pay R80 000. Where am I going to get that?”

The strike was organised outside of taxi associations but Nkogatse said the organisations support their protest action. “We drive their cars. If I were to get into an accident with their car without a public [driver’s licence], would the insurance pay for it?”

The Mamelodi Amalgamated Taxi Association was unavailable for comment.

Taxi drivers will be gathering at 3am on Wednesday morning and driving at 20km/h to the Tshwane Metro Police Department’s (TMPD) headquarters in the CBD.

Thato Nkadimeng, organiser and taxi driver from Mamelodi, said they’re doing this for the public and do not want to put them at risk by driving without licence. Nkadimeng said he’s expecting taxi drivers from all over Pretoria to participate. “We’ll be going until we get the right answer,” he said. “We know the strike isn’t legal but we’ll do it. I would much rather get arrested for fighting for my licence. I can’t drive anymore.”

Nkadimeng said the MMC of transport for Tshwane, Sheila Senkugube, had met with them yesterday to address their concern. “The MMC told us that they’re fighting for us to get the fines reduced. If I have to pay R20 000, they’ll remove 50% so I’ll pay R10 000. It’s the same.” Nkadimeng said the mayor doesn’t want to cancel their tickets because they drive irresponsibly and jump red lights. “We tell them that we don’t have tickets for jumping red lights. The tickets we have are for obstruction and driving without a PDP [professional driving permit] or failure to produce.”

Ralph Jones, spokesperson of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) said they are unaware of the go-slow tomorrow.

TMPD were unavailable for comment at the time of publishing but said they would release a statement soon.

This story will be updated.

Featured image by Mihlali Ntsabo

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