JOHANNESBURG - Roads leading into the capital came to a complete halt on Wednesday morning as hundreds of taxi drivers embarked on taxi strike, driving at 5km/h heading to the city.

Employees at the Soshanguve Plaza, south of Pretoria, arrived for work on Wednesday only to find businesses closed amid fears that the taxi strike might turn violent. “Usually when there’s a strike, people take advantage and come and loot the stores,” said Sarona Matheba, an employee at Torga Optical.

When asked why she came to work even though they were not planing on opening for business, Matheba said they came in case it became possible to open later. “We will wait until after lunch, if nothing threatening takes place, we will then decide to open even though we are in fear.”

Simphiwe Katwai said she walked two hours to get to work since there was no transport.

“I had no choice, if I didn’t walk I wouldn’t get paid for today, and I can’t afford to miss work.” Although the National Taxi Alliance had given commuters warning to make alternative arrangements, Katwai said there was no alternative transport.

“I would have used a bus, but even the buses are not operating, so it’s useless for them to say we should organise alternative transport because it’s never even there. They sometimes even block the roads.” A few stores chose to open despite the looming threat.

“Well, our manager hasn’t advised us on anything, that’s why we decide to open,” said an employee from a fish and chips shop who did not want to be named. The streets remained empty with no public transport except private vehicles. Some people were seen asking for lifts to get to their various destinations.

The grievances raised by the taxi industry include certain provisions of the National Land Transport Act, matters related to operations, the Integrated Public Transport Network or the BRT system, compensation for an operator surrendering an operating license, the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme, and the public transport subsidy.