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Mobility MEC meets with Western Cape taxi leaders to discuss future of B97 route

The Western Cape taxi industry met with Mobility MEC Daylin Mitchell to discuss the closed B97 route. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency/ANA.

The Western Cape taxi industry met with Mobility MEC Daylin Mitchell to discuss the closed B97 route. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency/ANA.

Published May 24, 2022

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Cape Town - The Western Cape taxi industry met with Mobility MEC Daylin Mitchell on Monday in an effort to find solutions leading to the reopening of the closed B97 Route.

Mitchell first closed the minibus taxi route between Mbekweni and Bellville from July 26 last year after a bid to stop violence between operators affiliated to the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) failed.

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The local Paarl Alliance Taxi Association (Pata), which is affiliated to Codeta, and Cata Boland both claim rights to operate on the B97 route.

Mitchell said that the Western Cape government had put a significant amount of time, money and effort into trying to resolve the conflict - with the participation of affected taxi associations and officials - but an agreement could not be reached on the sharing of the route outside of the arbitration process.

Since the release of the arbitration award on November 22 last year, several meetings were arranged between the government and the affected taxi associations, Paarl Alliance and Cata Boland to unpack the arbitration award and to pave the way for a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in respect of sharing the route.

No agreement has been reached to date. The current extension expires tomorrow (on Thursday 26 May).

A notice proposing closure for a further extension was published on Friday for comment, after both Cata and Codeta had asked the department for more time while they were focused on regional, provincial and national South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) elections, and would not allow the two route associations to engage on their own.

“We want the route to be re-opened as soon as possible but we cannot do that while there is uncertainty that it is safe to do so. There must not be any chance of a member of the public being caught up in violence similar to what we saw in July last year.

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“It is our responsibility as government to ensure that citizens are protected. The requested extension allows the affected taxi associations sufficient time to come to a formal agreement between them on the sharing of the route as recommended by the arbitrator,” Mitchell said.

“While I am disappointed that we could not reach an agreement before today, I want to open this route in the knowledge that the safety of the citizens will not be at risk in any way.

“While government has ensured that an alternative mode of transport has been available to commuters during the closure, I understand that both the commuters and operators are suffering for as long as the route remains closed for minibus taxi services.

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“Until a formal agreement is reached on the sharing of the route, reopening B97 would inevitably result in a flood of illegal taxi operators, which would likely reignite the conflict and violence,” Mitchell said.

Santaco chairperson Mandla Hermanus said: “The minibus taxi industry is under pressure to get the route reopened but we also understand that the route cannot just be reopened in a vacuum.

“To ensure that there will be no violence, there must be a way of resolving the issues that led to the closure of the route. It is important for Cata and Codeta to find each other before the route is reopened.

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“We have engaged with the leadership of both associations and they are committed to finding a lasting resolution to the issues concerning Route B97. If we are talking about peace between Cata and Codeta, working together on Route B97 would be a practical demonstration,” Hermanus said.

Mitchell said that a cursory demand analysis, implemented as part of the Transport Contingency Plan, which has been in place since the closure of the route, confirmed the need for additional minibus taxis on route B97.

The Drakenstein Council, which is in the process of reviewing its Integrated Transport Plan, resolved to support an initial number of additional operating licences on the route.

As part of the process of developing the MOA, the two groups are to put forward the names of their members who would qualify to apply for these operating licences.

In the absence of this MOA and agreed lists between the Cata- and Codeta-affiliated groups, government stakeholders, including the Department of Transport, City of Cape Town, Drakenstein Municipality, Winelands District Municipality, provincial traffic and the SAPS, recommended to the MEC that it would be premature to re-open the route.

The SAPS, provincial traffic and Drakenstein traffic departments will continue joint operations to monitor Route B97 for compliance with the closure notice.

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