Law puts brakes on speed freaks

LUANDA - Mateus Muinga knows only one speed: fast. He claims to be able to get anywhere, any time at record speed without getting fined or causing an accident.

That's what it takes to be a successful candongueiro, or cabbie, in one of the world's most congested cities.

But a new traffic law that carries fines of more than R9000 for drivers who exceed the speed limit, fail to put on a seat belt, or talk on cellphones while driving could soon put Muinga and his co-pilot out of business.

That's because his 14-seater Toyota minivan, one of the thousands of blue-and-white taxis in the Angolan capital, has no seat belts, indicator lights, rear view mirrors or even a speedometer to help him stay below the 60kmh limit.

The law came into force last week.

"I used to be the fastest cab driver but not any more," Muinga said as he tried to screw a new seat belt to the side of the driver's seat. "I just can't afford to get one of those fines."

"Our aim is to make the streets of Luanda safer and that means putting the brakes on the candongueiros," said a policewoman called Tania. - Reuters