Tired of being bullied by taxi operators
By Mpho Raphata
It is a week since Gauteng transport MEC Ismail Vadi suspended a troublesome route in Soweto and no incidents have been reported. It seems taxi operators working on the route between Dube and Mofolo are heeding authority’s calls.
Last Thursday morning I followed law enforcement agencies patrolling between Mofolo and Dube Soweto. These officers had been at it since midnight and they were clearly ready for any flare ups. They were ready to protect commuters. The very commuters that taxi operators care so little about. The same commuters that put bread on their tables, the very commuters that enrich some of the taxi moguls in Soweto.
While I was driving around and asking commuters whether they felt safe and what they thought of the decision to close these ranks in Dube and Mofolo on that very morning, I got angry; I thought about the levels of disrespect and disregard the taxi operators have for commuters.
Taxi operators cannot be allowed to hold people to ransom. I say transport MEC Ismail Vadi and his counterparts did well but taking this hard line approach to suspend operations on that route Mofolo and Dube. The route includes taxis passing Dube station, Makhetha, Uncle Toms and Mofolo.
I hadhoped the meeting between NANDUWE and WATA with the National Taxi Alliance to try and find a solution would end the route feuds between the two, but as I understand it now there was no agreement. In fact one of the associations concerned did not bother to attend the meeting.
Both the associations are claiming the ranks, but from what I have been able to ascertain, the routes registrar has awarded permission to NANDUWE.
WATA on the other hand passes through the same route. Efforts to end this impasse have yielded no fruits hence the closures. Now WATA wants the courts to overturn the decision to suspend operation.
Both the Gauteng transport and community safety departments have said commuter safety is paramount. The taxi operators on the other hand hire security companies to protect them from each other.
Last year at a transport indaba, Premier David Makhura called on the taxi industry to organise themselves so that they can work with municipalities on handing over the maintenance of taxi ranks to the taxi industry in an effort to empower them to make extra income.
Makhura said the taxi industry cannot continue to work in a survivalist mode; they should be at the heart of the provincial public transport system.
“But as much as authorities try to accommodate the industry, they continue to disrespect the commuter – their boss.
Statistics by the South African National Taxi council have revealed that the taxi industry employs more than 600,000 people and transports 15 million commuters per day.
The minibus taxi industry is believed to be serviced by as many as 300,000 vehicles, the majority of which are located in the country’s economic hub of Gauteng.
Unfortunately all this means nothing to taxi operators. I really hope this intervention will bare fruits; otherwise commuters themselves will have to act. In the meantime Gauteng police please continue protecting us.
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