Fed-up taxi group blocks streets in Joburg CBD

Johannesburg - A stand-off between minibus taxi drivers and metro police that lasted the entire day on Tuesday ended with their complaints resolved.

Frustrated taxi drivers from the Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe) blocked traffic by parking their vehicles in the middle of Simmonds and Harrison streets in the CBD, and at several intersections, among them Pritchard, Commissioner, Albertina Sisulu and Fox streets.

Police monitor the situation as taxi drivers block major routes in the Johannesburg CBD. Picture: Itumeleng English / INLSA

This was done in protest about the Witwatersrand African Taxi Association (Wata) taking up their routes and allegedly killing two of their drivers.

The Nanduwe treasurer, who asked not to be identified, said: “Wata invaded our routes, and according to the taxi laws, you have a permit that permits you to work on certain routes. They are breaking that law.

“They work on our routes like White City, Mofolo, Dube and Orlando West. Because we’re protecting our lives, respecting the law and are aware that we are a small association, we have been quiet about this. But even with all this we have had two of our members shot dead.”

He said the association had court orders, permits and a memorandum, but whenever members called police, they were arrested.

Taxi operators began their roadblock at 10am by marching to the office of Transport MEC Ismail Vadi, who refused to see them. They proceeded to Premier David Makhura’s office for a meeting.

‘Tense situation’

Vadi said on 702: “I'm told a number of these taxi operators came with their drivers fully armed. So it became a tense situation. I think the police just monitored the situation and did not want any kind of confrontation.”

He added that he wasn't intimidated.

As the day progressed, there were threats of violence as the drivers goaded the police, saying they weren’t scared of them.

But the two parties maintained dialogue at most points of the stand-off in efforts to keep the peace.

After the meeting at the premier’s office, the taxi operators sang and danced as they received the good news that the government would support their claims.

“In our meeting with the premier’s office, the MEC’s office and law enforcement, we addressed our complaints. Tomorrow they will be at the taxi ranks to monitor that we’re working peacefully. The owners will wake up and face work.

“If you are assaulted we have numbers to call,” said a Nanduwe representative, to cheers and whistles.

After the drivers left, metro police cleared up the roadblocks and directed traffic.