South Africa: Government considers measures to stem violence in public transport sector

Public transport operators could lose their operating license if they are found to have engaged in extortion and racketeering, which are associated with violence in the industry.

“Serious consideration is being given to amending the terms of all operating licenses to explicitly provide for the suspension and withdrawal of operating licenses under section 79(2)(b) where an operator is recognized guilty of engaging in extortion and racketeering,” Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Tuesday.

Currently, the provisions of Section 79(2) of the National Land Transportation Act (NLTA) authorize regulatory entities to revoke or suspend operating licenses under defined circumstances.

These include, but are not limited to, the holder or an employee of the holder found guilty of an offense under the Act or any law relating to motor vehicles or the regulation of traffic or the safety of work or labor relations, or an offense due to fraud or dishonesty.

Delivering his remarks during a virtual appearance before the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, he said the intermodal conflict has worsened in recent years and is overtaking long-distance bus operators.

Reported incidents include school transport, cross-border transport, commuter services and commercial contracts between employers and private operators.

“Extortion has become institutionalized in the public transport space, with the taxi industry being the main culprit. This constitutes a perverse incitement to conflict and violence. These practices are not isolated to the Western and Eastern Cape but widespread in all provinces,” the minister said. .

Mbalula said the government is considering a number of measures to strengthen law enforcement interventions that will stem the violence.

He said the government was considering declaring a nationwide moratorium on issuing all business licenses.

“A nationwide approach is important to undermine the cross-provincial nature of extortion and racketeering activity that fuels violence and murder.”

The government also plans to implement urgent measures to build the required capacity of municipalities to ensure that operating licenses are issued based on up-to-date integrated transport plans, as required by law.

The government is also considering putting in place enforceable regulations to regulate grading facilities.

This response will require coordination at the provincial level to ensure consistency that can be enforced by law enforcement authorities.

“We are also considering issuing regulations empowering the national public transport regulator to establish a complaints line and mechanism to monitor extortion and racketeering activity, evidence of which will be shared with law enforcement authorities. .

“This should include evidence of collusion between members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and/or traffic officers, as provided for in the National Land Transport Amendment Bill, which does not has not yet been enacted.

“These interventions are our contribution to the larger package of interventions that will be implemented through the inter-ministerial committee headed by Police Minister Bheki Cele,” the minister said.

Mbalula pointed out that the legislation that regulates public transport operations provides a number of punitive measures for those who willfully undermine it.

“Ours is to invoke the legal instruments at our disposal to ensure they have nowhere to hide. A mechanism that is closely coordinated with law enforcement authorities and intelligence services will produce results. tangible things that will stop the proliferation of this crime,” Mbalula said.

Section 91 of the NLTA further empowers the Minister and MECs at the provincial level to invoke emergency measures, including the closing of ranges and routes and the seizure of vehicles in the event of an outbreak of violence.

“These actions can be coordinated between different provinces. However, these measures are only effective if the identity of the perpetrators of the violence is known,” the minister said.

Comments are closed.