Durban's e-hailing taxi operators tired of being 'bullied'
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Durban - A NEWLY formed association of e-hailing operators says they are fed-up with being ignored by the government and victimised by taxi associations. The association believes that e-hailing is a threat to taxi associations due to the fact that it is a part of the fourth industrial revolution.
Andre de Bruin, interim chairperson of the Durban e-Hailing Association, said “enough is enough”.
“It is now Transport Month, yet nothing has been done for us e-hailing service providers. We need the government to intervene following the victimisation and intimidation by taxi owners, drivers and metro police,” he said.
De Bruin highlighted attacks on drivers who are being threatened by taxi drivers and hijacked. “Nobody wants to hear us,” he said, adding he feared that violence could erupt between the factions.
According to De Bruin, eThekwini metro police have also targeted the e-hailing services by impounding their vehicles for not having public driving permits (PDP).
“Metro police are constantly laying charges against us, impounding our vehicles and thereafter giving us fines from R3 000 to R10 000, which make it impossible to get our cars back. All of this occurs at the expense of the consumer,” he said.
De Bruin said they had been trying to get help without any assistance from metro police, while the Road Traffic Inspectorate said it had no problem with them and they could operate.
He said e-hailing operators were now shying away from certain areas and routes, and operating off-line by contacting customers via social media.
De Bruin added that the constant hijackings of e-hailing operators were acts of sabotage.
“I think that it is orchestrated. Why are the cars recovered within a few hours by tracking companies? They do not disappear like in normal hijackings.
"They know that the drivers are sitting with large amounts of money; they also rob the driver of their cellphones and other valuables,” he said.
At the weekend security company Reaction Unit South Africa reported that a driver who had been hailed in Inanda was hijacked and robbed of his vehicle.
Spokesperson Prem Balram said they were alerted by Tracker on Saturday morning that a VW Polo had entered a high-risk area and efforts to get hold of the driver were unsuccessful.
“Reaction officers and Tracker operations members proceeded to the area after the vehicle’s tracking device was activated. A white Mazda 323 was seen parked on the road in the vicinity from which VW Polo was emitting signals. The VW Polo was spotted inside a sugar cane field. Four suspects who were in the process of stripping the vehicle fled into the sugar cane when they noticed a Tracker vehicle approaching,” Balram said.
The driver was found in the boot of his car and was unharmed.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said a case of hijacking was opened but there had been no arrests.
The metro police denied targeting e-hailing drivers, stating that they need to follow the rules and by-laws by obtaining permits from the Transport Department.
Spokesperson Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewparsad said: “These owners and drivers must have the relevant PDPs and DRDP licences as well as a Certificate of Fitness (COF). We are not targeting e-hailing services; we are only doing our job."