Crisis talks between South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), the City of Cape Town, Western Cape and national government broke down on Sunday night, dashing hopes of halting the province’s crippling taxi strike.
The taxi union announced a seven-day taxi strike effective from last Thursday. The industry had been complaining about the impoundments under the new by-law, resulting in 6 000 taxis impounded in the last six months.
In a statement released on Sunday night, Santaco Western Cape said: “It is with great disappointment that we must announce that the talks between Government and the Santaco leadership that took place in an attempt to resolve the cause for the taxi stayaway, was suspended.
“With this said, we can confirm that the stayaway will continue until Wednesday 9 August, as initially announced.
“However we are open to talks with Government to find a speedy resolution to the issues and we call on all our operators not to interfere with other modes of transport and not take part in any criminal activities.”
Here is an update on the suspension of our services. pic.twitter.com/R4C2wzfRu6— SANTACO (@SA_Taxis) August 6, 2023
The City and Province expressed disappointment that the process had stalled, and called Santaco’s demands unreasonable.
In a joint statement, they said: “It is with great disappointment that we note that the statement issued by Santaco contains terms and amendments that were neither tabled nor agreed upon during extensive talks yesterday between the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Mobility, Councillor Rob Quintas, Western Cape Minister of Mobility, Ricardo Mackenzie, National Minister of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga, and the leadership of Santaco.
“Alongside the City of Cape Town, we put forward a proposal on Friday to alleviate the impact of impoundments on taxi operators... Unfortunately, Santaco’s additional demands are not legally implementable...”
Among the demands are allowances for taxis to have priority in yellow and red lanes during rush hour, allowances for traffic obstruction, and a suspension of conditions pertaining to operating licenses.
Government questioned the “sincerity and commitment of Santaco to reach a resolution in good faith”.
They noted that the violence, intimidation and destruction have have placed enormous pressure on essential services.
Other transport operators, Golden Arrow Bus Services and MyCiTi, have kept running most of their scheduled services under highly volatile conditions.
Meanwhile, the Western Cape High Court has granted Golden Arrow Bus Services an interim interdict against Santaco following attacks on its buses and employees.
Spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer said: “It has been ordered by the honourable Justice [Patrick] Gamble that the respondents are interdicted from intimidating, harassing, threatening or interfering with Golden Arrow, its employees and passengers.”