Transport authorities have announced drastic plans to crack down on taxi violence, which has brought public transport in the Western Cape to a standstill this week.
These include shutting down taxi ranks and routes, stopping support for the SA National Taxi Council (SANTACO) and prescribing demarcated areas in which taxi bodies may operate.
Yesterday, MEC for Transport and Public Works, Daylin Mitchell, met with Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, Cata, Codeta and SANTACO, to discuss resolutions to the conflict that has grounded hundreds of thousands of commuters this week.
Yesterday’s meeting follows attacks on two e-hailing service drivers who are lucky to be alive after their cars were bombed in separate incidents.
A man, who had dropped off his clients in Fisantekraal, outside Durbanville, got the shock of his life when occupants of a white VW Polo threw a petrol bomb at his Toyota Corolla on Tuesday night.
Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi says they are investigating a case of malicious damage to property.
“Police members responded to a complaint on Tuesday and drove in the direction of Boy Breiers road in Joostenbergvlakte,” he says.
“According to the complainant, five unknown suspects forced him to stop his vehicle on the road, after which they set his vehicle alight.
“The suspects fled the scene and are yet to be arrested. The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.”
Earlier on Tuesday in Delft, a vehicle was also set alight on Symphony Way.
Police spokesperson Colonel André Traut says: “Tuesday afternoon an e-hailing driver’s vehicle was thrown with a petrol bomb by suspects who were protesting because he was transporting passengers in Symphony Way. No one was injured. The circumstances are under investigation.
A resident says they are now scared to call e-hailing services.
“Some people have been pulled out of the cars, but what are we supposed to use to get to work when there are no taxis and buses,” says the terrified commuter.
Taxis stopped operating last week after eight people were killed in a dispute between Cata and Codeta over the Paarl/Mbekweni to Bellville route.
The violence then spread to bus services. Three shooting attacks on Golden Arrow drivers earlier saw GABS reduce their service to just 40% capacity, as they feared for their drivers and passengers’ safety.
Yesterday, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde met with GABS management.
Winde said: “While meeting with Golden Arrow’s CEO, Francois Meyer, I was advised that the bus service is continuing to bring online more of its fleet, after the disruptions earlier this week.
“This evening, 60% of their fleet or approximately 600 buses will be brought online, which is an increase from 40% of their fleet yesterday.
“I made it clear that ensuring the safety of public transport operations is my top priority, and that SAPS has significantly increased their presence to ensure that violence is prevented.”
Meyer said the taxi violence has had a devastating impact on Golden Arrow and its 250 000 daily passengers.
Meanwhile, the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) announced the following measures to stop the taxi violence:
- In terms of Section 91 of the National Land Transport Act, MEC Mıtchell would close routes and ranks, in consultation with SAPS.
- The DTPW would approach the Western Cape High Court to empower the MEC to place SANTACO associations under administration.
- The DTPW has suspended its financial support agreement with SANTACO until the violence ends.
- Suspension Blue Dot incentive payments to CATA and CODETA, as a direct result of the conflict.
- DTPW would approach the High Court to seek an order that associations such as Cata and Codeta, like SANTACO Western Cape, be confined to specific geographic areas.