Taxi industry plans Cape 'shutdown' on Wednesday over grievances

Santaco to hold talks with government leaders on Tuesday

21 February 2023 - 07:35
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The taxi industry in Cape Town is set to go on strike on Wednesday.
The taxi industry in Cape Town is set to go on strike on Wednesday.
Image: Siphiwe Sibeko

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) will meet leaders of the Western Cape government on Tuesday ahead of a planned strike over grievances.

The organisation distanced itself from reports of road blockades that saw 1,800 children in Cape Town miss school on Monday.

Western Cape education MEC David Maynier said some school buses in Mfuleni were stopped and prevented from transporting pupils. 

Maynier said the blockades took place despite the taxi industry agreeing to suspend the illegal blockades “until such time as the matter can be heard before the court”. 

Last week more than 5,000 children were affected by blockades.

On Friday the department approached the Western Cape High Court to obtain an urgent interdict against Cape Organisation for the Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta), preventing it from obstructing, interfering with and stopping the transporting of pupils in the province.  

Santaco's Nceba Enge, the first deputy chairperson, said while the council has also heard of taxi blockades in Mfuleni, “we are not sure who those taxis belong to”. 

“As the taxi industry we have agreed to suspend the blockades as per the court’s decision, and we abide by that. We respect the court’s decision that we must let school buses operate. All our members were informed of the ruling, so we are not sure who is responsible for the latest blockades. We are investigating the reports,” said Enge, who is also the general secretary of Codeta in the Western Cape. 

Maynier said a case of common assault, intimidation, and extortion has been opened with the police against the minibus taxi associations involved in preventing children from getting to school. 

“What the minibus taxi mafia is doing is a crime, and cannot be justified. We have taken decisive action against those who are preventing our children from attending school to serve their own commercial interests.” 

On Friday Santaco agreed to suspend its illegal blockade of pupil transport scheme operators until such time as the matter can be heard by the court. The matter is scheduled to be heard in the high court on Friday. 

On Tuesday, Santaco is set to meet Western Cape premier Alan Winde, Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis and the new mobility MEC Ricardo Mackenzie, to discuss its impending “shutdown” over grievances.  

The City of Cape Town has issued a warning about Wednesday's planned shutdown, saying the previous stayaway action had “unfortunately been marked by violence, destruction of public property and other transport services, and intimidation”.  

Rob Quintas, the city's mayoral committee member for urban mobility, warned taxi industry lawlessness would not be tolerated. 

“I want to make it very clear that the city will not tolerate thuggish behaviour on the day, and that all the necessary precautions will be taken to ensure the safety of commuters and other operators, including the MyCiTi bus service, as far as possible.” 

He described as “dishonest” Santaco’s claims the city is “targeting minibus taxi operators” by issuing fines for transgressions and impounding illegal operators. 

I want to refute some of Santaco’s assertions for justifying the stayaway.” 

Quintas said taxi operators who run their business legally and comply with the rules of the road “do not have to fear fines or impoundments, but those who are violating the law will be caught and fined”. 

“The city will not be intimidated from acting against those who are driving around without driver’s licences and transporting commuters in vehicles that are unlicensed and not roadworthy.”

Golden Arrow Bus Services has also expressed concern about the impending shutdown, saying its buses had “historically come under attack” during previous shutdowns by taxi operators. 

Derick Meyer, Golden Arrow general manager, said: “It cannot be coincidence that our employees, passengers and assets are targeted every time that the taxi industry undertakes this type of stayaway. 

“Human beings cannot be treated as collateral damage, and we do not accept the preposterous suggestion that previous attacks are coincidental or unrelated. It is not good enough to simply say that violence and damage to property is not condoned. We therefore call on Santaco to take the necessary action to ensure that other operators and commuters are not affected adversely as result of their withholding of services.” 

As a contracted bus service to the provincial government, Meyer said the company is obligated to operate as per timetables.  

“We take this duty very seriously and will be operating on Wednesday. We cannot allow ourselves to be bullied in this way in what seems to be becoming a more and more frequent occurrence. We will take whatever legal action is necessary to protect our rights and the rights of our passengers,” Meyer said. 

Enge confirmed the taxi strike will go ahead as planned on Wednesday, depending on how Santaco’s meeting goes with authorities.

“We always encourage our members not to involve themselves with any transgressions during such events, and therefore we want to allay fears that there will be violence on Wednesday.   

“We don’t know what is going to happen at the meeting. We hope our concerns about lack of support from the government, impoundment of our vehicles and other issues will be addressed. If they are addressed, we might even call the shutdown off,” Enge said.


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