Release our impounded taxis, owners demand
DURBAN - DURBAN taxi commuters were left stranded yesterday after more than eight taxi associations embarked on a protest, demanding an immediate release of their impounded taxis.
It alleged that more than 100 taxi operators blocked the streets, demanding an immediate release of more than 50 taxis which taxi owners said were impounded by the metro police last Thursday.
The taxi blockade and traffic disruptions started just after 6am.
A number of roads were affected including Chris Hani Road (North Coast Road), Umgeni Road near Durban Station, Julius Nyerere Avenue (Warwick Avenue) near Dr Pixley KaSeme (West) Street and Dr Pixley KaSeme Street outside City Hall.
The protesters then moved to Sylvester Ntuli (Brickhill) Road where they parked their taxis at the old drive-in site that is used by metro police as a pound.
Yusuf Khaliva, chairperson of the SA National Taxi Council in Durban Central, told The Mercury that out of 22 associations, eight had downed their tools yesterday. He said that more associations were expected to join the protest.
Khaliva said the issue was that taxis were being impounded due to a lack of permits. He said engagements were taking place with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport and mayoral office on the matter.
“The department and the municipality confirmed to us that there is a delay regarding the issuing of permits. On that note, we had an agreement with all the relevant parties that in a case where there are no conflicts over routes, taxis must not be impounded over permits,” said Khaliva.
He said despite the parties agreeing to this, taxis were still being impounded.
“Why do we have to suffer regarding the delay of issuing permits? They are aware of the delay, so why are they arresting us? We are being abused and victimised by the city’s police.”
According to Khaliva, several taxi associations – including in KwaMashu, the CBD and uMlazi – have had their taxis impounded.
He said that to release a taxi, they had been paying fines ranging between R3 000 and R5 000.
“We are tired of being treated like garbage. Because they want our taxis, they must come and get them all.”
He said the association did alert commuters that they would not be operating until their impounded taxis were released.
“The sad part is that the commuters are more affected by this. We are not going to take our taxis back to the streets until the metro police release all our taxis. As much as we feel sorry for the commuters, we are also suffering.
“Taxi owners are failing to pay for the impounded taxis. You find that one taxi gets impounded two days in a row, and we are required to pay R3000 in every case. We are already not generating any profit due to Covid-19, yet the municipality demands fines from us daily.”
He said that they would engage with metro officials in a meeting scheduled for today.
Metro police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad said four protesters were arrested for public violence yesterday morning.
However, Sewpersad denied the allegations that there was an engagement with the taxi associations.
He said that, over the years, they had been assisting taxi owners to get permits.
“The main issue is that metro police is enforcing the route permits, and the taxi associations don’t want that,” said Sewpersad.
He said that there were allegations that trucks were stopped by protesters and used to blockade the roads during the protest.
Sewpersad also disputed the allegations that there were delays in the process of issuing permits.
“They must come with all their details so that we can assist them to renew the expired permits. They are required to sort out all the existing fines. The issue is that the owners don’t want to come to our offices as they would be caught for having many outstanding fines,” he said.
The provincial Department of Transport could not be reached for comment by the time of publication.