The taxi drivers will gather from 9am at the Old Putco Depot in Marabastad, and move at 11.30am to the Department of Transport at the corner Struben and Bosman streets to hand over the first memorandum, scheduled for 12pm. File picture: Willem Law
Pretoria - Taxi commuters in Pretoria will have to scramble for alternative transport on Wednesday as a result of a huge protest by drivers.

Members of the National Taxi Association has announced plans to take over Pretoria, blocking Madiba Street, Nelson Mandela Drive, Johannes Ramokhoase Street, Nana Sita, Francis Baard and Boom streets as they march to the Transport Department and Union Buildings.

It accused Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi of arrogance and refusing to engage with the industry. This comes after the postponement last week of a protest by taxi drivers to allow for negotiations to continue.

The drivers will gather from 9am at the Old Putco Depot in Marabastad, and move at 11.30am to the Department of Transport at the corner Struben and Bosman streets to hand over the first memorandum, scheduled for 12pm.

They will proceed along that road and turn right into Nelson Mandela Street, turn left into Madiba Street until they reached the Union Buildings to hand over the second memorandum at 1pm.

Read: LISTEN: Tshwane braces for huge taxi strike

They are expected to move back to Old Putco depot at 2.30pm.

“Metro police officers will monitor the march and all affected streets,” said Tshwane Metro Police Department spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba.

Both local and long distance commuters will be affected by the strike, and hardest hit will be the matriculants who are writing their final exams. They are scheduled to write their English Paper 2 on Wednesday.

Last Monday, the Gauteng Department of Education granted matriculants impunity after they were affected by the #BlackMonday protests, when farmers blocked all major highways in protest of farm assaults and murders.

Exams were delayed by an hour to allow those affected by the protests to sit for their papers.

MEC of Education Panyaza Lesufi on Monday urged parents to take precautions and prioritise their children’s safety. He said the department would invoke the necessary prescripts for all those who might not make it to the exam.

He said chief invigilators would also use their discretion to accommodate pupils who needed to write at alternative centres.

“It is concerning and unfortunate that such activities continue to be organised during this critical period of examinations in the education environment, actually such activities subvert the country,” said Lesufi.

His spokesperson Steve Mabona said a contingency plan was in place should matriculants be affected by the strike. He said in the event that they were late, all the chief investigators would know how to manage their examination.

“Those who do not make it will be managed administratively,” he said.

The taxi drivers are protesting against the issuing of enforcement tickets that blocked their Professional Driving Permit driver’s licences and motor discs.

They claim they cannot renew their driver’s licence and motor discs because of Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences fines. They said the issuing of the enforcement tickets hindered their daily operations and progress in the taxi industry.

Drivers have said they could not even obtain their professional driving permit because of the enforcement tickets.

In addition, they wanted an increase in the amount they got paid when they handed old taxis over as part of the recapitalisation plan as well as permission to use the bus rapid transit lanes.

The protest follows one in August, where taxi drivers brought the city to a standstill.

They drove into town at a snail’s pace, then proceeded to march ahead of a convoy of taxis, carrying golf sticks, garden spades and baseball bats.

They hurled insults at journalist and passers-by who took videos, and in some instances they broke people’s phones and forced them to delete pictures.

At the time, they were marching to Tshwane House to submit a memorandum with the same demands.

The march started early that morning in the city’s townships, where reports of intimidation and violence in Soshanguve, Mamelodi, Mabopane and Ga-Rankuwa were made.

Taxi drivers blocked roads with cars, rocks and burned tyres, keeping law enforcers kept busy.

Thousands of commuters were left stranded. The protest also affected train services in Soshanguve, which were suspended after protesters blocked the railway lines. A bus belonging to Tshwane Bus Service was pelted with stones and damaged.

Pretoria News