Minibus taxis are seen at Bara, the biggest taxi rank in Soweto

Johannesburg - Gauteng roads and transport MEC Ismail Vadi has extended the closure of five minibus taxi ranks and routes linked to violence, unrest, and instability in Soweto for a further three months.

The affected taxi ranks and routes were shut down by Vadi in mid-July due to ongoing violent conflict between the Witwatersrand African Taxi Association (Wata) and the Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe).

The month-long extraordinary measure, in effect until August 13, has already negatively affected thousands of commuters as they have to resort to costly alternative transport and longer hours on the road.

"I intend to extend the extraordinary measures instituted on 13 July, which are aimed at stabilising public transport services in Soweto, for a further three months, as there is no agreement between the two associations aimed at normalising the situation," Vadi said in a statement.

Nanduwe and Wata have been at loggerheads for over a year over routes and pick-up points. At times, the conflict has become violent, resulting in the loss of lives and interruption of commuter services. 

Nanduwe has accused Wata of defying a court order to withdraw its taxis from the Dube route and to stop picking up passengers in the area. Wata taxi drivers were found operating at the closed taxi rank and arrested. At least 13 drivers were arrested last month after they were found operating illegally at a closed taxi rank and their minibus taxis were impounded. 

Vadi said he had not received any assurances from the leadership of the two taxi bodies about restoring peaceful operations in the area. He insisted that there be an immediate removal of armed security companies on all taxi routes and ranks allocated to the two associations and a commitment to end all forms of violence and intimidation.

African News Agency