The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee has made a decision to recommend to Council that a dedicated Transport Enforcement Unit be established within the City’s Safety and Security Directorate. The proposed unit is to be adequately resourced with additional law enforcement officials and the necessary technology to ensure its efficiency.

This new unit, to be called the Transport Enforcement Unit (TEU), will fall under the Traffic Services Department within the City’s Safety and Security Directorate.

The TEU will focus on public transport, in particular: operators without operating licences, operators who are contravening the terms of their operating licences, minibus-taxis and private cars using the red MyCiTi lanes, and motorists who use the bus and minibus-taxi (BMT) lanes on the N2 freeway and Main Road during the peak-hour periods.

The TEU will initially consist of 136 officials from the existing enforcement units attached to the MyCiTi services; four public transport interchanges; Main Road BMT Unit; and the existing Traffic Services public transport unit.

‘Apart from the 136 officials, it is proposed that an additional 20 traffic officers be appointed to support the public transport system, including the removal of the large number of illegal taxis that are currently operating on MyCiTi routes and depriving the City of much-needed income,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.

The Transport Enforcement (TE) Branch situated within TCT will, together with the TEU, determine, monitor and review the tasks to be performed by the unit. The TE branch will use business intelligence such as accident data, surveys of the regulation department, complaints about the MyCiTi service, and other relevant statistics to determine the TEU’s priorities; as well as where and how the officials of the unit should be deployed in order to best serve its transport enforcement mandate.

‘The TE branch and the TEC will jointly monitor the performance of the unit and determine any changes, if and when needed. The intent of this change in the model is to ensure that public transport enforcement receives the required attention and much-needed focus from the officials,’ said Councillor Herron.

The formation of the TEU will enhance the safety, security and reliability of public transport (the MyCiTi service, minibus-taxi industry, metered-taxi industry and Metrorail); improve compliance with operating licence conditions; reduce road accidents, deaths and injuries; and limit opportunities for fare evasion.

‘Currently 57 key transport enforcement activities are performed in Cape Town by seven enforcement agencies across three spheres of government. Evidently, a new model is needed to address the inefficiencies that are caused by a lack of resources and the existing institutional arrangements within transport enforcement,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

In August 2013, a Transport Law Enforcement Task Team comprising officials from TCT, Safety and Security, the South African Police Service, Metrorail and the Western Cape Government Transport Branch was established by Councillor Herron and Alderman Smith to address this.

This was followed in June 2014 by a visit to the City by a senior manager from Transport for London (TfL) who emphasised the effectiveness of a dedicated Transport Policing Command within the London Metropolitan Police.

‘The City is confident that the new model for transport enforcement will pay off very soon. The sustainability of the public transport system relies heavily on effective enforcement. A safe and secure public transport system will attract and retain users. At the same time, we have to address the challenge of taxis that are illegally operating on MyCiTi routes’ said Councillor Herron.

The London experience illustrated to the City that the provision of a safe and secure public transport system is dependent on adequate human resources and the appropriate technology. The report from the task team and subsequent inter-departmental agreement is the first step in creating a comprehensive, responsive transport enforcement regime across the city.

‘There is a policing maxim which states that he who controls the roads, controls crime. Adequate resourcing of the Transport Enforcement Unit would greatly impact on crime and would deny criminals the ability to perpetrate some crimes and transport stolen goods, illegal firearms, drugs and criminals. Most crimes involve the use of public roads and public transport and having adequate, well-equipped enforcement staff backed up with good crime intelligence and technology could improve the levels of safety while reducing crime and road deaths greatly,’ added Alderman Smith.