Mbalula to announce task team next week in a bid to curb taxi violence
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Cape Town - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has vowed to announce a task team of "eminent people" to deal with taxi violence next week.
Mbalula made the announcement in Parliament on Thursday during a briefing on the developments regarding the taxi violence in Cape Town.
This after a deadly war between the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) that has claimed more than 80 lives.
Mbalula and Transport and Public Works MEC Daylin Mitchell said they were affording the associations further opportunity to find each other and agree on how to resolve the ongoing conflict.
They have been meeting the two associations since Friday, last week.
Mbalula said the talks between the parties had failed to make significant progress thus far, and the government was looking at legal options to safeguard the lives of innocent people who were being killed through taxi violence.
He said in the event that such provisions were invoked, the affected parties would be given an opportunity to make representations on any proposed measures, including closure of routes and ranks.
Mitchell said he was disappointed that there has been no resolution reached so far, after extensive meetings with the taxi industry.
He said the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works engaged in a process to uncover the root causes of the violent conflict while working with all stakeholders to achieve a lasting peace and stability in the minibus taxi industry.
"These initiatives include the provision of independent mediators and venues to get rival taxi ‘mother bodies’, Cata and Codeta, to find common ground. These negotiations have been going on since July 8," he said.
He said there have been 83 taxi-related murders and 56 taxi-related attempted murders in the province since the start of the year.
"The major bone of contention is the transporting of commuters on Route B97 between Mbekweni in Paarl and Bellville. Both Cata and Codeta claim ownership of the route and the matter is in arbitration," said Mitchell.
SA National Taxi Council provincial spokesperson Gershon Geyer said the taxi council hoped that their members would refrain from any further violence.
Parliament's Transport Portfolio Committee chairperson, Mosebenzi Zwane, said he was hopeful that the associations would find themselves and that the approach to refer final resolution of the conflict back to the associations was a correct one.
Zwane said it was unfortunate that people who were not part of the conflict found themselves in the middle of the storm.
United National Transport Union general secretary Steve Harris said irrespective of what the underlying issues might be, the timing of the taxi violence could not have been worse.
He said that last week, a protection officer of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA was killed in the crossfire between taxi drivers.
"South Africans cannot afford taxi associations fighting over control of routes. Workers cannot afford to be stranded at home. This will only lead to more hunger, poverty and inequality in our society,” said Harris.
He appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa and Police Minister Bheki Cele to explain to South Africans why there was an absence of adequate law enforcement in the transport sector, specifically in the rail, trucks, and taxi environments.