PICS: Dispute over taxi route shuts Joburg streets

Johannesburg - The dispute about the Dube taxi route was felt by Joburg motorists when taxi owners and drivers from Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe) marched to the office of the MEC for Transport, Ismail Vadi, midday on Tuesday.

The long-standing dispute is between two Soweto taxi associations, Nanduwe and Witwatersrand African Taxi Association (Wata). At least eight major streets were closed down when drivers parked about 100 taxis outside Vadi's office at the corner of Pritchard and Simmons street, with metro and SA police services monitoring the situation.

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Nanduwe taxi operators are accusing Wata of defying a court judgement ordering them to withdraw their taxis from the Dube route and also prohibiting them from picking up passengers in the area.

A Nanduwe taxi driver, who refused to be named, said that they had decided on Tuesday morning to switch off the keys of their vehicles, and march to the department's offices in a bid to get the MEC to intervene. “We have been very patient with Wata, even after numerous court judgements finding against them. The last judgement was handed down by the Pretoria Magistrate's Court, giving them 21 days to withdraw their taxis from our route,” he said.

“These people [Wata taxi operators] have no regard for us. They are boasting against us saying that we will transport the court order while they transport passengers.” The taxi driver also said the police had no reason to fear violence breaking out as they were a “peaceful taxi association”.

“We told the police that we are not violent. We have more unlike the students who have been destroying property and Thepelo Moiloa, spokesperson for Gauteng Community Safety, said that the affected streets had been cleared of traffic.

“Nanduwe taxi operators were complaining about taxi permits and accused Wata of ignoring court interdicts and a memorandum, also saying there had been no compliance from Wata,” he said.

“They sent two of their bosses to the Premier's office. The Premier had given them 21 days for a turnaround strategy, but we are still two days to go. Those routes that were affected have been opened. Lots of motorists were affected including myself.”

Wata officials hung up when they were contacted for comment. Nanduwe and Wata have also been fighting over early morning pick-up points in Mofolo, Orlando West and Central Western Jabavu for a while now.