Impressive Corporate responsibility – Pioneer Foods / Sasko

Commuters along Witkoppen Road (Fourways, Johannesburg) would be familiar with the picture below during rush hour traffic where taxis disregard all traffic rules and drive on the middle islands of Witkoppen Road (or pretty much any other road where there is an island, pedestrian lane or emergency lane):

White Star branded taxi violates traffic rules at Monte Casino

The above incident tops however anything I have ever seen and has become now very popular amongst almost all taxis travelling along Witkoppen: They would drive onto the middle island into oncoming traffic (and often “middle-finger-salute” drivers having right of way) to “weave” back left into traffic, thus cutting off all commuters patiently waiting at the traffic lights for their green-phase, only to be stuck as taxi after taxi keeps on coming. Taxis also block drivers trying to turn from Witkoppen into Monte Casino Blvd in their dedicated turning lanes and also abuse emergency lanes.

This happens every damn day and my 8km commute which typically took 20 minutes has now turned into a trip of 45 minutes or longer. The metro-police could not be bothered to enforce the traffic laws and the South African police (Douglasdale station) just drive by without the slightest concern.

I previously attempted to report such traffic violations (with pictures and car registration of offenders) at Douglasdale police station where I was laughed off as no-one was hurt, nothing was stolen and this was not an insurance claim and officers on duty told me, that they have more important matters to deal with and I should not waste their time.

When I noticed the “White Star” sponsored taxi (registration: DC06CG*GP) violating traffic rules on 28th January 2015 at 7:10am, I felt compelled to contact Pioneer Foods, as I thought that any corporate company would have to have social responsibility and surely would be concerned how their brand is portrayed in the public eye –  i.e. does “White Star Maize Meal” really want to be associated with reckless and criminal taxi drivers, disobeying traffic rules and being complete, selfish and rude jerks in traffic towards other citizens?

While I initially did not expect much of a response (actually I did not expect any response from Pioneer Foods), I was surprised to receive a call from head-office enquiring about the issue, asking for additional information (i.e. better picture than I emailed and possibly registration of the car) as well as being deeply concerned that such behaviour is not in line of how Pioneer Food wants their brand and products seen in the public eye.

I am sure Pioneer Foods will take the necessary action against the driver / owner of the taxi and the same challenge should be extended to any other corporate sponsoring taxis showing such reckless behaviour on the road. Considering that this traffic behaviour has been an ongoing concern for many, many years, I guess that neither JMPD nor SAPS has any motivation to address it – after all, they would target powerful taxi-associations with strong, influential political ties – hence as a cop, you better look the other way.

Update 30th Jan 2015: This is the first JMPD (Johannesburg Metro Police Department) vehicle I have seen in the last 10 weeks during my morning commute at Witkoppen. Shame, the JMPD officer managed to pull one taxi over, while another 10 or so just raced past him (hoping onto the island, driving into oncoming traffic and cutting other people off). I could not get the plates of the JMPD car, but the officer trying to enforce traffic rules (and fighting a losing battle) surely deserve a major shout-out from all commuters.



Update 9th Feb 2015: Believe it or not, the very same “White Star” taxi pulled a similar stunt today, where the driver came from the William Nicol offramp, proceeded to cut across the red-traffic lights on Witkoppen Rd (in essence cutting off all drivers having right of way on Witkoppen) and then proceeded to continue navigating through traffic in the emergency lane. I actually received a call from Primedia (who run most of the outdoor advertising for taxis) and was told that they have a “very strict” code of ethics. To be honest, it might be strict on paper, but surely not enforceable, as there is no way to report transgressors.

So Primedia – my suggestion to properly enforce your code of ethics and show corporate responsibility:

  • Deploy dashboard cameras on your branded taxis which can be frequently monitored and audited. This will also assist with law-enforcement and should become an absorbed cost by the taxi organisation (you break it, you replace it). Spot checks are very easy and violations of conduct are very easily enforceable.
  • Use the GPS information on those dashboard cameras to monitor speed travelled.
  • Have a call-centre contact number “Report good/bad driving” on your branded taxi’s as well as an unique number identifying a branded/sponsored vehicle.

Update 10th Feb 2015: Primedia sent the following letter – Primedia