20 March 2019

South Africa: Taxis Shut Down Routes in and Out of Vaal Triangle Ahead of Human Rights Day Celebrations

Twelve taxi associations have blockaded all routes leading in and out of the Vaal Triangle.

Taxis operators affiliated to the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) began their planned seven-day strike on Tuesday night.

They are demanding answers from the provincial government over the completion of a taxi rank and mushrooming potholes on all their routes.

This, as government departments and political parties are expected to hold several Human Rights Day commemoration events in the area.

Santaco spokesperson in Sedibeng, Mbuyiseni Mahlangu, said the events which were expected to take place in Sharpeville on Thursday would only go ahead if Gauteng Premier David Makhura attended to their grievances.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to be the main speaker at the annual commemoration of the killing of 69 people on March 21, 1960, when 180 people were also injured.

Police spokesperson Captain Fikile Funda said they were shocked when they woke up to find that various objects, including trucks, were used to blockade all entrances and exits around the Vaal.

"They took trucks operating in their same routes and used them to blockade some of the roads. We have not arrested anyone and have opened a public violence case. There are no casualties and no damages of properties that have been reported and we have deployed our various units to ensure there is law and order around the Vaal area," said Funda.

Mahlangu was "deeply concerned" by the treatment that Santaco - an organisation that ferries people from one destination to the other - received from the government.

"We have been promised a taxi rank in Vereeniging for over six years now and it has not been completed to date. No one is telling us why the rank is not complete. People are robbed at our rank in Vereeniging and when it rains, there is no shelter for them to wait.

"Our other concern is about many potholes that are everywhere in the Vaal, especially on routes that we use. We pay for licences like everyone who owns a car and we deserve to drive on smooth roads without potholes," said Mahlangu.

Taxi operators vowed that buses and minibus taxis would not operate for the week until their demands were met.

"We are aware that our strike will hit us in the pocket and commuters will also be affected, but there is no other option left for us in order to get attention from our government. We are harassed daily by traffic officers who impound our vehicles and yet fail to issue our permits.

"Tomorrow, we don't think the Human Rights Day commemoration will take place because our strike continues. If they don't come and address us then it is a problem," he said.

Source: News24

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