The Cape Navigator

Seaside Community Newspaper

Mitchells Plain

Scholar Transport Operators Warned to Obey the Rules: Crackdown Ensues in Mitchells Plain

Michael Hawthorne

MITCHELLS PLAIN – In a concerted effort to ensure the safety of learners using scholar transport services, Mayoral Committee Member, Alderman JP Smith, and the Provincial MEC for Transport led an operation in Mitchells Plain this morning. The move comes as the new school year kicks off, with a stern warning to operators to adhere to legal guidelines.

The City’s Traffic Services revealed that in 2023, they conducted 61 operations focusing on scholar transport across the metropole. These operations resulted in the impoundment of 238 vehicles and the issuance of 5,407 fines for various transgressions. Today’s operation near two schools in Mitchells Plain saw at least 19 vehicles impounded.

Alarming details emerged during the operation as one scholar transport driver was arrested for drunk driving. Further inspection revealed his vehicle to be unroadworthy. The apprehended driver was transporting 23 learners, aged between 10 and 15, leading to his detention at Mitchells Plain SAPS.

A key concern highlighted by officials is the prevalence of drivers operating without the necessary permits and qualifications. Alderman JP Smith expressed deep concern, stating, “Providing a service without the necessary operating license is one thing, but even more scary and disconcerting is the number of people who get behind the wheel without a professional driving permit or even a driving license. It is absolutely mind-boggling and speaks to a complete disregard for the young lives in their care.”

The situation is exacerbated by the high demand for scholar transport, coupled with a lack of understanding of the law, allowing unscrupulous operators to go unnoticed until they are involved in an incident or caught by traffic officers.

Alderman JP Smith urged the public in 2024 to familiarize themselves with the requirements for scholar transport operators and report any illegal operators for the sake of children’s safety.

In terms of the law, scholar transport operators must ensure both driver and vehicle fitness. Drivers are required to possess a valid operating license, driving license, and a professional driving permit (PrDP). Vehicles should not be older than 12 years, must be registered and licensed in the Western Cape, have a special ‘vehicle fitness’ certificate, undergo roadworthy testing every six months, and be fitted with seatbelts for every passenger and car seats for children under three.

Parents and caregivers have the right and duty to request the credentials of their service providers, check that the vehicle complies with specified regulations, and report any transgressions to the Provincial Regulatory Entity at the Shadow Centre in Athlone or via the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre by dialling 021 480 7700 from a cell phone or 107 from a landline..

The City of Cape Town, through its Media Office, emphasized the importance of collective responsibility in ensuring the safety of scholars relying on transport services. The crackdown on non-compliant operators serves as a stark reminder that adherence to regulations is not just a legal obligation but a moral imperative for the well-being of the youth.

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