tembe stands firm

Operation Nomakanjani's 100 days of existence was celebrated in style yesterday as taxi operators finally found common ground with the Johannesburg Metro Police Department.

But the crackdown on reckless and negligent driving - mainly in the city centre - continues.

Acting chief of the Metro Police David Tembe was locked in a four-hour meeting with taxi operators at the Johannesburg Metro Police Department [JMPD] headquarters in Newlands to discuss Nomakanjani.

This was the first time Tembe met with taxi operators in an open forum since taking over the running of JMPD.

Nomakanjani was yesterday celebrating 100 days in operation.

More than 2000 drivers have being arrested for breaking traffic laws since it was launched in March.

Tembe and the taxi industry agreed to form a forum at which the two sides would meet and iron out their differences to make "the City of Johannesburg a safer place".

But Tembe was steadfast on Nomakanjani as some of the taxi drivers begged him to back down a bit. "If you skip a traffic light two minutes after this meeting, we will still arrest you for reckless driving," he warned them.

Tembe, however, promised to stop the impounding of vehicles .

When taxi drivers realised that they could not stop Nomakanjani, they requested Tembe to at least change the name of the operation.

"This name is intimidating. It tells your officers to treat us shabbily. And now that we are united, let's call it Sisonke," said one taxi operator.

However, Tembe promised to investigate all the harassment and attitudinal issues which were raised by the taxi operators.

Head of Operation Nomakanjani Sergeant Jack Mabaso was also present at the meeting.

The new forum will also constitute of commuters, the City of Johannesburg, Johannesburg Roads Agency and the Road Traffic Management Corporation.

The new forum will also facilitate the training of taxi operators on the city's by-laws.

"Six months from now, nobody should be arrested for negligent driving because everyone will be complying," said Tembe.

Spokesperson for the taxi industry Ralph Jones described the meeting as a milestone for the taxi industry.

"Maybe Nomakanjani was a blessing in disguise seeing that it culminated in today's meeting," Jones said.