Three-month ban for Uber, Bolt inside Soweto malls

Quick fix to e-hailers vs taxis conflict

08 June 2023 - 08:49
By Koena Mashale
Johannesburg members of mayoral committee Kenny Kunene (roads and transport) and Mgcini Tshwaku (public safety).
Image: Veli Nhlapo Johannesburg members of mayoral committee Kenny Kunene (roads and transport) and Mgcini Tshwaku (public safety).

E-hailing taxi drivers will not drop off or pick up passengers inside shopping malls in Soweto for the next three months.

This is in terms of a short-term agreement with minibus taxi operators after violence flared up recently at Maponya Mall and Protea shopping centre. The violence saw several e-hailing taxis torched, allegedly by taxi operators who accused Bolt and Uber drivers of stealing business from them. The drivers clashed in Protea on Tuesday leading to closure of some roads.

On Wednesday, the South African E-hailing Association met Soweto Taxi Services (STS) and City of Joburg officials to discuss the violence. 

The e-hailing association said the three-month agreement was better than nothing.

The association’s national spokesperson, Vhatuka Mbelengwa, said the solution, though temporary, could be worked around. 

“Whether the solution is the best now is uncertain, but it is a solution nonetheless. At the end of the day, we must try something to ensure the safety of the community and us,” said Mbelengwa. The agreement would be in place until a permanent solution is found. 

STS chairperson Myekeleni Madlala also welcomed the agreement. 

This is an agreement and not a final one. We are doing this for the safety of everyone and to ensure everyone is protected. We have agreed they will not enter the malls and will only stop at the gates of the malls. A permanent solution will still be discussed at a later stage,” said Madlala.

MMC for public safety Mgcini Tshwaku says the main problem that traditional taxi drivers have are e-hailers who have started to enter the space of the taxi ranks at malls. 

“E-hailers are not supposed to wait for their customers inside malls. The two parties have agreed they are not fighting and so it begs the question of who is setting alight these vehicles. Who is the third party?” said Tshwaku. 

It’s too easy to point fingers at each other, to say that it’s the taxi industry’s fault. We have been advocating for regulations for many years. We cannot continue to talk about burnt vehicles when there have been burning of vehicles over the years. We have a social and collective responsibility to unite and not vilify the taxi industry,” Mbelengwa said.

Kenny Kunene, MMC for transport said: “We will meet again on Friday to finalise the last solutions. However, for now, we have agreed that all the e-hailing services/cars must do their drop off at the gates of the malls but when they are carrying elderly people or people with disabilities, they can then drop them off inside the mall and leave.”

Kunene said despite the road being blocked in Protea on Wednesday, the situation was under control. 

“From this meeting there will be presence of police officers and e-hailing drivers have been given this mandate. The situation is under control. Whoever does not follow this resolution they risk their cars getting impounded by the police.”

Tshwaku said an intelligence unit team had been deployed to be on the ground for the next few days. 

“We have deployed a team because we don’t know what is going to happen after this.”


Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.