The National Taxi Alliance (NTA) is concerned that a new amendment bill currently before Parliament could penalise taxi owners for the behaviour of individual drivers.
The portfolio committee on transport heard on Thursday that the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Bill doesn’t differentiate explicitly between owners and drivers in its proposed punishment for taxi offences.
“The Act is unclear as to whether the word ‘person’ or ‘operator’ refers either to the owner or the driver,” NTA president Mohanoe Masitsa said during public hearings into the bill.
“The question which arises is whether the phrase ‘operating a motor vehicle’ extends to the right of an owner to allow his vehicle to be driven on a public road.”
The proposed penalty for a taxi driver who exceeds the suggested demerit threshold is a suspension of their licence for 32 days.
Masitsa asked that the bill clarify the rights of owners when drivers, who rent their vehicles, break the law on the road.
He also said the duties imposed on owners are unrealistic, given that many drivers who rent vehicles are not in possession of a written lease for their respective homes, and therefore can’t be served notices at an address.
“Ironically the responsible person will never lose his licence because the fine would not have been served upon him, either by registered post or by personal service.
“The penalty will then rebound on the owner of the vehicle.”
If more than one of their drivers commits an offence at the same time, a greater burden is placed on the owner’s shoulders than on the individual guilty of the offence, Masitsa said.
NTA secretary general Alpheus Mlalazi also appealed to the department of transport to work with the taxi industry in drawing up legislation, and not treat them as “strangers”.
Mlalazi said the taxi recapitalisation programme was the best thing to happen to the taxi industry, and is evidence of how the department and the industry can work together.
Public hearings into the amendment bill continued on Thursday.
Business Unity South Africa and the Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association were also due to present before the committee.[Source: News24]