News / 16 September 2014, 11:42am / Natasha Bezuidenhout and Zodidi Dano
Cape Town - There was commuter chaos in Nyanga on Monday after Nyanga taxi drivers staged a wildcat strike in protest against their bosses - the owners of the taxis they drive.
A 44-year-old taxi driver was shot in the leg, allegedly by the owner of his taxi, when a fight broke out between the drivers and owners after owners decided to drive their taxis themselves.
Golden Arrow bus services were suspended in Nyanga for the day after two buses were stoned.
This followed the killing of a taxi driver and the torching or damaging of 11 buses near the Nyanga Terminus earlier this month, in the first taxi drivers’ strike.
One of the issues angering drivers is that they get stopped and fined by the City of Cape Town when the vehicles given to them to drive by the owners are unroadworthy.
A driver, who declined to be named, said: “We receive heavy fines amounting to about R10 000 for vehicle faults which are not our problem, and with fines and warrants against your name you can’t reapply for the public driver’s permit (PDP) once it expires.”
“What is worse is that owners are not even defending us or helping us because they are not the ones getting ripped off like this.”
The injured taxi driver was unloading passengers when he was shot.
Police spokeswoman Constable Zodwa Kedama said the taxi driver was hit in the left leg, allegedly by a taxi owner.
He was taken to KTC Day Hospital where he was receiving treatment.
Kedama said police were still seeking the owner and no arrest had been made.
SA Taxi Council provincial spokesman and Nyanga taxi owner Sipho Maseti said the owner had been “merely protecting himself” when he allegedly shot the driver, after the driver slapped the owner for transporting commuters.
Maseti said: “More drivers came armed with knobkieries and spades, so the owner shot the driver in self-defence.”
Maseti said owners had taken to driving their own vehicles because of the strike.
“We were not told about the strike by our drivers; we were shocked to hear what was happening this morning.”
On Monday, the entrance to Nyanga was barricaded with burning tyres.
Striking drivers smashed the windows of all vehicles that tried to enter or leave.
Maseti said: “It’s funny that these drivers are now attacking us when we are the ones who came up with some of the grievances they are protesting about. Admin marks and the Bus Rapid Transit system - it doesn’t affect them, that’s the problem of the owners.”
Maseti claimed a “third force” was instigating the strikes and using the drivers “to achieve whatever its goals are”.
He said in a meeting with the drivers on Friday it was agreed that there would be no strike.
“They are doing this all on their own.”
Golden Arrow bus services spokeswoman Bronwyn Dyke said two Golden Arrow buses were stoned in Delft and Nyanga.
“We don’t take these situations lightly and decided that Golden Arrow buses will not enter Nyanga, but will operate from the corner of Borcherds Quarry and the N2. We are monitoring the situation. As soon as we get the all-clear buses will resume operations in Nyanga.”
Mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron said no agreement had been reached between the City of Cape Town and the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco).
“Last Thursday I met the leadership of Santaco Western Cape, as well as six regional taxi executives operating in Cape Town. The purpose of the meeting was to formally establish the Taxi Working Group I proposed, and to discuss how we can work together to tackle the issues that are being raised by the taxi industry (including the drivers).”
Herron said the taxi leadership raised concerns similar to those raised by drivers.
“We will seek ways, together with the taxi industry, to improve on the sustainability, viability and stability of the taxi industry.”
He added that the city had set up a number of engagements with the taxi industry and was making every effort to avoid a strike by taxi drivers.
“If despite our efforts and our assurance that we are working with the taxi leadership on these issues, some taxi drivers still withdraw their services, then this must raise questions as to whether they are engaging in good faith since these issues cannot be resolved overnight.”
The next meeting between the city and Santaco is expected to take place on Monday and Nyanga taxis are to resume on Tuesday.