Mixed feelings in Eersterust about tuk-tuk vehicles impounded by Pretoria cops

PRETORIA, South Africa – The community of Eersterust has mixed feelings about the impounding of 27 tuk-tuk vehicles by Tshwane Metro Police Department officers on Tuesday.

The officers seized the tuk-tuks and issued 29 fines.

“These vehicles are being operated on public roads, mostly by underage children and thus posing a risk to road users and the community at large. We will not tolerate unlawful behaviour on the roads,” the department said.

However, community representative Benjamin Lawrence said the service was a solution to the public transport problem in the area.

“The tuk-tuk is the biggest employer here; there is no entity that employs more people in this community. Government has a challenge in unemployment and the operators came up with a solution.

“Why do they not help them to get permits instead of saying they are illegal? Let’s help them to become legal and train them to be responsible.

“The Department of Transport has to step in. About 300 guys are employed under this and they are working and gaining independence because of this business.”

He said it was not just 27 operators but there were more scared to operate out of fear of having their vehicles impounded.

Lawrence pleaded with government to assist the community and the service provider so they could work lawfully and in peace.

Ray Solomons, chairperson of the Eersterust Tuk Tuk Services, said they were striving to get permits for their drivers.

“We have a service and we want it to be professional. If we don’t create jobs for our community, who will employ the struggling youth? There are youth that we have helped and gave hope and a sense of responsibility. That is our bit for the community.”

He said he would like the Department of Transport to assist them.

“We want to be formalised and grow, and even move to other communities as an essential service.

“Some of these guys are breadwinners and now able to feed their families through this initiative.”

AB Isaacs, also of Eersterust Tuk Tuk Services, said they were stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“It’s a challenge because we are struggling to get permits.”

He said they were tightening the bolts on rowdy drivers, adding there was a fine system in place for various offences, and if caught drinking and driving, they immediately confiscated the vehicle and informed the owner.

“We don’t allow underage drivers, and there are penalties on offences that we have zero tolerance on. On the bike there is an identity number so people can call or WhatsApp the association if they have complaints.”

Roads and Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo however said legislation did recognise the tuk-tuk as a mode of transport. “But they must first be assessed and evaluated.”

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