Replies to DA parliamentary questions have revealed that 2353 panel vans have been illegally converted into minibus taxis and are likely still on our roads.
The unsafe, unstable converted panel vans were officially declared to be illegal in late 2007 and are currently the subject of a national investigation by the Public Protector.
Transport Minister Ben Martins has admitted that his department has no plan in place to address this issue. He is essentially conceding that his department is not taking any steps to change a situation in which the lives of thousands of commuters are put at risk daily.
It not clear how many passengers are currently using illegally converted vehicles. The Minster and his department also “does not have information on the number of persons who have died in such minibus taxis.”
It is the responsibility of the Minister and his Department to ensure that public transport is effectively regulated, safeguarding the lives of the passengers who use it.
I will be calling on Minister Martins to appear before the Transport Portfolio Committee to answer questions on this issue and on why the lives of South Africans continue to be put at risk.
The City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government is clamping down on illegal minibus taxis and have increased their impoundment capacity for private vehicles and taxis. Impoundment centres in Maitland, Ndabeni, Beaufort West, George and Hermanus allow for illegal taxis to be removed from the streets and have proven to be a powerful weapon in the city and province’s fight against illegal taxis - largely because its effects are immediate and cannot be laughed off by the guilty party.
It is now the Minister’s turn.
Minister Martins needs to roll out a national plan of action to eradicate these unsafe vehicles from our roads. To ensure the safety of minibus drivers, passengers and other road users, we need a plan which all nine provinces buy into and implement.