Bugged by wily taxi drivers who evade roadblocks

I missed church last Sunday because of transport problems.

I got up with plenty of time to prepare for church but my plans were scuppered by a lack of transport. I boarded the first taxi on time but halfway through the journey things went awry.

The taxi driver saw a big roadblock ahead and turned into a residential area. A Metro traffic car with two policemen followed us for about a kilometre and forced the driver to stop.

The cops told the man to turn back to the roadblock. When the driver protested, he was told that he was not using the regular taxi route and was trying to evade inspection.

The driver said there was no law that said he had to use a particular route but the policemen were not impressed.

We had to drive back to the roadblock where the police found that the driver had not paid his fines.

The police promised to get another taxi for us but not a single one taxi came past. I suspect that the taxi drivers had found out about the roadblock and were not using their regular route.

After some delay one of the cops drove us to Germiston. He was doing us a favour and we were duly grateful. We joked with him and laughed nervously because one is never comfortable in the presence of cops. I have known of innocent people who start shaking when a policeman passes by.

There were ructions, however, when we reached the taxi rank.

The cop-driver told us that he would drop us a block from the rank because he did not want to face the taxi drivers. They might exact vengeance for their colleague.

The aunties protested vehemently, saying that their money entitled them to be dropped inside the rank.

Their gratitude evaporated when they heard that they would have to walk just one block to connect with their next ride. "Imali yethu iphelela erenkini."

The idea that they would lose a few cents drove the fear out of their hearts and they demanded to be treated right, forgetting the cop had done them a favour.

The Metro cop stopped just outside the rank and threatened to turn back to the roadblock and leave us there if we did not get off.

I was first out of the taxi and made a dash for the second one to Benoni. On the way we had to change taxis again because the drivers turned back to their own routes.

This is common practice on this route but no one, certainly not the drivers, can explain why it is so.

I have heard passengers speculating that it is an effort to stop various taxi associations from fighting over the same route.

If that is so, then why do the drivers cooperate when they are supposed to be at war with each other?