Cape Town - Transport and Public Works MEC Daylin Mitchell has threatened to close certain ranks and routes after a violent taxi protest erupted in Nyanga on Friday.
Mitchell said he was in the process of consulting with other regulatory stakeholders and that it may be necessary to declare the Nyanga area high-risk because of taxi violence.
“This will allow me to invoke my powers in terms of section 91 of the National Land Transport Act (Act No 5 of 2009) to close certain ranks and routes should the situation deteriorate any further. Other regulatory interventions are also being considered to stabilise the situation,” he said.
The protest has the City of Cape Town suspending its Dial-a-Ride (DAR) commuting service for special needs citizens until further notice.
Urban mobility Mayco member Rob Quintas said the City, through its service provider, would inform users once it is safe to operate in areas such as Nyanga, Philippi, Crossroads and Samora Machel.
Safety and security Mayco member JP Smith said all service delivery vehicles were instructed to withdraw from the area immediately.
“It’s very disheartening to think that these individuals with special needs, who are most vulnerable and dependent on the City’s assistance, have to be left stranded in difficult economic times. With the service now being suspended, residents do not have certainty about their transport to work or important appointments,” Quintas said.
Mitchell said a number of Golden Arrow buses and other commercial vehicles were torched during the illegal protest action, and other public transport operators were allegedly threatened and intimidated.
He said it was claimed that the protest action was orchestrated by sedan/Avanza operators providing minibus-taxi type services (amaphela operators).
“These operators were allegedly unhappy with law enforcement initiatives in the Nyanga area that resulted in the impoundment of illegal amaphela vehicles,” Mitchell said.
He said his department has a good partnership with the Western Cape Branch of the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) and have always endeavoured to resolve key challenges facing the taxi industry by means of deliberation.
“We have met with Santaco and we call on them to intervene and to take all reasonable steps to preclude further misconduct on the part of its members and members’ drivers,” he said.
Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) secretary-general Mandla Hermanus said Cata was not involved in any protest. “Our taxis are operating and it is business as usual.”
Santaco spokesperson Gershon Geyer said it denounced any form of violence, and that it hoped the law enforcement agencies would arrest the perpetrators.