Revolt is reportedly building up in the ranks of local taxi drivers who are seemingly on the brink of reverting to protest in defiance of alleged acts of bribery apparently being orchestrated by municipal traffic officials.
The explosive situation was brought to Polokwane Observer’s attention by a source who spoke on condition of anonymity. He alluded to corrupt conduct on the side of greedy municipal traffic cops ultimately putting the lives of their colleagues at risk as the problem is seen to grow in magnitude and becoming unbearable.
According to the source the situation had taken a turn for the worst as local taxi drivers, particularly those operating the Mankweng line, made it clear that they would revert to action if the state of affairs continued unabated.
Information garnered from random interviews with taxi drivers points at slipping of a banknote – to cause the official to turn a blind eye to traffic violations – being the order of the day along the route from Polokwane’s Central Business District (CBD) to Mankweng. One of the drivers Polokwane Observer spoke to indicated that the problem was also exacerbated by traffic officials attached to the Department of Transport and not only those attached to the municipal traffic division.
From the interviews it was evident that the persisting problem has created a catch-22 scenario, which makes it less stressful for a driver to pay a bribe rather than face the brunt of an angry taxi owner’s anger after getting a fine or having the vehicle impounded.
The sources confirmed that alleged bribery by traffic officials was increasingly prevalent. When asked about possible protest action, the taxi drivers indicated that they did not have any knowledge of such alleged intentions.
From the sources it was learnt that bribes could run as high as R500 to avoid a taxi being confiscated. The taxi drivers interviewed said they would have to hand over between R50 and R500 to a traffic cop at a given time. When a person was lucky it only happened once a day, but if luck ran out it could easily mean three to four bribes a day.
Marshal control at hiking spots around the city is seemingly another nightmare. The source claimed they allegedly played along by pointing out drivers to be fined to traffic officials placed there. In the meantime the manpower was concentrated at hiking spots instead of in town where traffic congestion posed a constant headache, he added.
Commenting on behalf of the Mankweng Taxi Association, Frans Kgasago denied knowledge of any pending protest among driver ranks, but said the issue of bribery had been brought to their attention by their members in the past. As a solution they had advised their members to produce information on the guilty party and the registration number of the official vehicle used at the time for them to follow up in an attempt to combat the problem. To date they hadn’t had anyone officially reporting bribery, he said.
It seemed as if alleged bribery by traffic officials seemed to be a daily occurrence along the various routes, Kgasago mentioned.
In comment sourced from Polokwane Municipality, Tidimalo Chuene said bribery was a serious offence and if witnessed should be reported to the Police. who would then arrest the offender. “We are totally against any form of corruption and encourage those affected or witnessing such to report at their nearest Police station.” She further suggested fraud and corruption activities to be reported anonymously to the anti-fraud hotline 0800 20 50 53. Corruption-related activities committed by their own officials wouldn’t be tolerated, it was stressed. If any officials were implicated in such allegations and got arrested, the municipality would allow its own internal processes to take its course, it was stated in conclusion.
Story: YOLANDE NEL