NC Transport Department determined to root out corruption and withdraw illegally obtained operating licences.
Kimberley: The Northern Cape Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison has begun a process to withdraw 316 illegally issued operating licenses following internal investigations that uncovered discrepancies in the number of permits issued.
The Department took a decision to put a moratorium on the issuance of operating licences from 1 June 2015 to 31 December 2016 to manage a backlog of operating licence applications and to ensure that the market was not over saturated to enable it to be profitable for operators and meet the needs of the public. It was during this process discrepancies were uncovered.
The Provincial Regulating Entity (PRE), responsible for adjudicating over operating licence applications, detected some irregularities while addressing the backlog in the influx of operating licences issued, as the permits dispatched contradicted the provisions made in the National Land Act, No 5 of 2009. This discovery then led the Department to commence internal investigations on the matter. The moratorium was uplifted on 1 April 2017.
The investigations in the Department, subsequently revealed that 316 applications were approved unlawfully.
To address the illegal issuance of the operating licences, the Department then evoked Section 79 of the National Land Transport Act which stipulates that any licence issued irregularly should be withdrawn by the PRE.
The Department has thus far issued 316 letters through registered mail stating the intention to withdraw the operating licences to all affected operators. The letters also stated that the permits were unlawfully approved but operators could oppose the intended withdrawal by providing reasons why the withdrawal should not be effected. In addition, failure to dispute the withdrawal within the stipulated time, a process to withdraw the operating licence would unfold.
Applicants have also been awarded an opportunity to reapply for the operating licence at no cost and should the application qualify, the permit would be granted accordingly.
Of the 316 letters issued through registered mail, 173 of the letters were returned back to the department as they were not collected at the Post Office. The Department has then implemented other avenues to ensure the uncollected letters are delivered to the remaining operators of the illegally issued operating licences through engagements with taxi associations as some have been identified as members of various associations.
The Department, to date, has distributed 105 withdrawals letters to operators with illegally issued operating licences, to notify them that their licences have been withdrawn.
The decision by the Department to have the illegally issued licences withdrawn has also been welcomed by Taxi Associations in the Province. In May 2018 the MEC met with all Taxi Associations, of which the majority were of the view that all the licences issued irregularly must be withdrawn. Subsequent to that meeting, Associations have shown interest in the withdrawal of unlawful operating licences by enquiring on the feedback to date.
Meanwhile, the implicated official, has been charged and disciplinary proceedings have been instituted internally by the Department and disciplinary hearings are unfolding. The Commercial Crimes Unit of The Hawks has also instituted its own investigations into the matter and the Department has pledged it full support and cooperation during the process.
Furthermore, the Department’s Public Transport Inspectorate (PTI) will continue to enforce compliance and check conditions of operating licences in the Province, amongst its other functions.