COPS POUNCE ON BAD TAXIS

Mpumalanga MEC for public works, roads and transport Clifford Mkasi seems to have kept to his promise to clamp down on unroadworthy and overloaded taxis on the province's roads.

Mpumalanga MEC for public works, roads and transport Clifford Mkasi seems to have kept to his promise to clamp down on unroadworthy and overloaded taxis on the province's roads.

Mkasi reported in his policy and budget speech recently that he would no longer tolerate a situation in which schoolchildren's lives were put at risk by profiteering taxi operators and drivers.

He repeated his vow in an interview with Sowetan last week when he told us: "Our children need to be safe. We can't afford a situation in which they are overloaded or travel in unroadworthy vehicles.

Yesterday, during the morning rush hour, Mkasi's traffic officers lay in wait for unrepentant operators and drivers as they headed for various schools in Nelspruit to deliver learners.

All those who had outstanding traffic fines, were overloaded or were driving without proper documentation, were stunned when officers impounded their vehicles.

The biggest victims, though, were the children that Mkasi wanted to protect because they were left stranded on the spot where the taxis were stopped.

The traffic cops manned the gates of nearly every school in the city, ambushing the unsuspecting drivers.

Children had to call their parents on borrowed cellphones for help to reach their schools.

Sakhile Ndlovu, a driver, was stopped at the Valencia Primary School gates where he was delivering learners before proceeding to other schools.

"These traffic cops discovered that I had overloaded my minibus taxi by just a mere two children. Instead of giving me a traffic fine they took out all the children and impounded my vehicle," Ndlovu said.

Lehlokonolo Maditsi, 13, a Grade 6 learner at the Nelspruit Primary School, was stranded at the Valencia Primary School gates.

"I asked the uncle who drives our Kombi to lend me his cellphone to call my father to come and take me to school as I was due to write a test," Maditsi said.

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