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KwaZulu-Natal - Leaders of a number of KwaZulu-Natal taxi organisations stormed out on day one of a summit hosted by the Department of Transport.

This was after a public transport passengers’ association spokesman told the meeting on Tuesday that passengers needed to be consulted before taxi fares were increased.

The leaders followed Eugene Radebe, chairman of the KZN taxi alliance, out of the meeting, at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban.

Radebe and his entourage gathered in a passage, shouting that when shops increased the price of bread there was no consultation with customers.

“We’re running a business and that is not how a business is run,” said one man.

Before the chaos erupted, Transport MEC Willies Mchunu had spoken about the aim of the summit. Premier Zweli Mkhize had left shortly after giving his speech.

A department official tried to get the men from the Top Six Taxi Association and the KZN taxi alliances to calm down, but she was sent packing.

The men were led by security and other officials to a meeting room, where they were joined by eThekwini city manager S’bu Sithole.

The media were not allowed in.

About 10 minutes later Radebe walked out and told journalists that Mchunu was old and stubborn.

“He does not want to listen, we have been talking to him about the same issues for years and he just doesn’t listen,” said a fuming Radebe.

He said they were also angry that Mkhize had left the summit before hearing what they had to say.

They were peeved at the way Mchunu had praised the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) throughout the summit, he said.

“When that old man (Lionel Mtshali) was premier, we told him to leave taxi affairs alone. He left. Now why is this old man, Mchunu, still here? He must go home and be with his grandchildren,” said Radebe.

He said the government had failed to handle the taxi industry and it was wise that it be left alone.

The men later returned to the summit, but they shook their heads as they listened to Santaco general secretary Philip Taaibosch, who in his speech told how the council had come to deal with the department.

Santaco represents the taxi industry, but Radebe and his backers have questioned its legitimacy.

“We want a structure fully representing all associations, but the government only recognises Santaco when it comes to this,” said Bafana Mhlongo, secretary of the KZN Taxi Alliance. - Daily News