Chaos erupted on highways across the city on Thursday after the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) announced a seven-day taxi strike in the province effective from 3pm on Thursday.
Two buses were reportedly set alight in Nyanga with MyCiTi passengers having to scramble for safety. Two law enforcement vehicles were stoned in Khayelitsha and taxis blocked the N2, causing congestion across the city.
Mayco member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, said numerous vehicles were set alight and sporadic incidents of stone-throwing were reported. This includes petrol bomb attacks on four buses, three trucks, bakkies as well as an ambulance.
Thursday night, thousands of stranded commuters sukkeled to get home, piling into buses at the Cape Town terminus.
The chaos followed an urgent Santaco meeting in Khayelitsha on Thursday to address the taxi violence that broke out in the CBD on Tuesday.
Santaco said the purpose of the meeting was to take action regarding the “unfair treatment of the taxi industry by the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town in particular”.
After the meeting was concluded, the council announced a seven-day stay-away, from Thursday until August 9.
Santaco chairperson Mandla Hermanus also urged their operators to refrain from any acts of violence and threatening behaviour.
“This decision has not been taken lightly, but as an industry we are left with no other option but to embark on this stay-away due to the frivolous impoundment operations run by the government, which has had a negative impact on our operators and industry.
“It must be noted that since the beginning of the year, 6 000 taxis have been impounded, which amounts to 1 000 taxis a month,” he said.
Hermanus’ words were skaars koud when news of violence on some of the city’s busiest roads were reported.
By midday Thursday, mense across the city were left stranded, with e-hailing services charging up to R552 for a trip from Cape Town to Mitchells Plain.
Spokesperson for the City of Cape Town’s Traffic Services, Kevin Jacobs, said traffic officers enforced road closures on the N2 inbound at Jakes Gerwel Drive and the N2 outbound at the M5.
At the same time, officials from the City of Cape Town and the provincial government held a meeting to discuss the way forward.
They assured citizens that authorities have prepared for the strike, adding that they will not be intimidated.
Mayco member for Urban Mobility, Rob Quintas, said they met with representatives of Golden Arrow and Prasa, who confirmed that they have put plans in place for additional fleets. MyCiTi will continue with their bus operations.
Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis condemned the violence and lawlessness.
“While we respect the right to peaceful protest, violence and intimidation have no place in Cape Town.
“City authorities are on high alert and we will not accept the blockading of routes and violent intimidation of peaceful commuters and non-striking transport operators,” he said.
Smith added: “The industry is disrespectful to the lives of the poor commuters. This is not expressing your right, it’s extortion and thuggery. Engaging in violence severely undermines your intention.”