Cape Town - Taxi bosses have pleaded for the City of Cape Town to give the industry an amnesty period to square up with the law so they can stop incurring the crippling fines that led to drivers rioting in Nyanga on Tuesday.
Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) spokesman Sipho Maseti said the future was “looking bright” for the taxi industry, but taxi bodies needed time to look into unroadworthy vehicles and unlicensed drivers. Meanwhile, members were “drowning” under mountains of fines and impoundments.
Mayor Patricia de Lille and city officials met Golden Arrow representatives, as well as members of Cata, the Congress of Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta) and the SA National Civics Organisation (Sanco) on Tuesday to establish a forum in which local taxi leaders could discuss their grievances.
After the meeting Maseti was optimistic about collaboration with the city. “The promises made by De Lille give me assurance that we are going to understand each other,” he said. “We are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Maseti said taxi owners did not feel threatened by the MyCiTi service, but he wished the city had made more of an effort to consult people in affected industries. “There is enough space for everybody,” he said. “It is no use pushing each other aside. Competition is the way to run business. They take their share; we take our share.”
Maseti sympathised with Golden Arrow after it suffered damages of R15 million after eight buses were torched this week.
“That’s a big loss, but it was out of our control as taxi owners,” he said. “This should never happen again. We will engage drivers not to partake again in evil deeds.”
But around the corner from Cata headquarters at Nyanga taxi rank, owners eating lunch vowed to demonstrate their anger in another show of violence on Wednesday.
Khayalethu Bikhwe said so many taxis had been impounded in Ndabeni that taxi owners were struggling to feed their families. “City authorities say we must have a permit, but they won’t give us a permit,” he said.
“The more you impound, the more violence is going to happen in Nyanga.”
Owners were ready to join drivers in rioting. “Unless (Premier Helen) Zille gives us an answer (by Tuesday night) Wednesday is going to be messed up. There will be more burning, more stones. They must sort out this problem.”
Nyanga commuters standing around the burnt tar where buses were torched on Tuesday said they were too terrified to use Golden Arrow buses.
One man said he had walked for two-and-a- half hours to get to work in Airport Industria on Tuesday, instead of catching a bus that took 20 minutes.
He refused to give his name or be photographed because he feared retribution from taxi drivers.
On the grassy verge between the N2 and the Nyanga on-ramp, Golden Arrow buses lined up for customers, while police vehicles kept watch. The makeshift bus station was inconvenient for many, but they felt safer surrounded by police and were still able to use the buses, which are cheaper than taxis.
Busisa Maboma bought a clipcard from the mobile ticket truck set up on the verge for his journey to Bellville.
“At first I was scared (to use the bus), but we’re used to these things here,” he said.