18 September 2017

South Africa: Taxis Scrambling to Get Commuters Home After Strike Called Off

Western Cape taxi owners say drivers will pull out all the stops to make sure commuters can get home on Monday night, after they called off their strike.

"We are busy communicating with a lot of drivers, as well as other owners who didn't attend the meeting, that the strike is called off," said Gladwell Matayitayi, a member of the regional executive of the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata), which participated in the strike.

He was one of a large group of taxi owners and representatives, including the SA National Taxi Organisation, who attended a mass meeting with Western Cape Transport MEC Donald Grant after the strike by around 152 associations in the province crippled the usual commuter flow.

The disagreement, which led to the strike, was over how new leadership in the taxi structures is elected, Grant said in a statement announcing the end of the strike.

The taxi drivers had now agreed to mediation over how their new leadership structures would be elected, and the focus had shifted to bringing normality back to transport services. Earlier, a Golden Arrow bus and a MyCiTi bus were torched, and roads around Cape Town were sporadically barricaded. Stones were thrown at buses, police and traffic officers, and in Du Noon, rubber bullets were fired and tear gas was released.

'Hit in the face by a flying rock'

A pregnant commuter and another passenger were injured when a MyCiTi bus was stoned in Khayelitsha, said Brett Herron, a member of the City's mayoral committee for transport.

"One of the commuters was hit in the face by a flying rock and the pregnant commuter fell during the violent attack near the Kuyasa stop," said Herron.

Golden Arrow spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer said at least 50 people had been injured, primarily as a result of stones being thrown at them.

MyCiTi had closed Dunoon, Usasaza, Circle East and Killarney bus stations until further notice. Golden Arrow said it would have to do a limited service, as about 150 windows and windscreens on its buses had been broken.

African National Congress councillor Khaya Yozi said there seemed to be enough security on the routes.

' We are really apologising to our commuters'

Mtayitayi asked taxi commuters to be patient, as taxi drivers rushed back into the Cape Town CBD to pick up passengers.He said commuters would probably have transport home, but said it may not be on the same scale as a normal day.

"We are really apologising to our commuters, because we just wanted the government to pay attention to our complaints. They must be patient, because not every taxi will be back on the road," he added.

Mtayitayi said that, although commuters were inconvenienced, they had also lost income by not plying their usual routes, and this would affect their ability to meet their own financial commitments, such as paying off their vehicles.

"But we are happy for now that the government paid attention, and will do something, and at least we are expecting to see some progress."

Source: News24

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