File picture: Dumisani Sibeko.

Johannesburg  - The Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) on Tuesday said it will vet minibus taxis before they can be allowed to operate on reopened Soweto routes.

"The GPG will today, 18 June 2019, begin the process of vetting minibus taxis that will be operating on the now reopened Soweto ranks and routes that had been closed over the past three months," said a statement from the provincial authority.

"The Operating License serves to confirm that prior to the closure of the routes in March 2019, the vehicle was duly authorised to operate."

Earlier this year in March authorities shut down six Soweto routes because of a violent dispute between the Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe) and the Witwatersrand Taxi Association (Wata).

The affected routes included the Dube taxi rank, Uncle Tom’s, Jeppe station, Mofolo Park and Makita.

Protesting taxi operators have in the past blockaded the Johannesburg CBD in order to press for the routes to be reopened.

However, NANDUWE and Wata recently signed a "peace treaty" paving the way for the routes to be reopened. The peace deal was signed at the historic Hector Pietersen Memorial, Soweto on 11 June 2019.

"As stated in the agreement signed between the Nanduwe, WATA and the Department of Roads and Transport, common stickers will be affixed on all 200 taxis that will be operating from various loading points," explained the statement.

This vetting will further ensure that stickers are not issued to illegal taxi operators, which will further perpetuate the problem.

“It is important for us to verify and authenticate the operators so that we avoid a situation where we have illegal taxis operating on the disputed routes and ranks. We will not compromise on the verification process as this will help us find a long-lasting solution,” said Roads and Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo.

"Verified vehicles will immediately resume with operations, while illegal ones will face the full might of the law. In the deal, the two associations pledged to end all hostilities after the routes and taxi ranks were closed following violent confrontations," said the statement.

Mamabolo added: “We appeal to the public to be patient with the process as our priority is to ensure that only authorised vehicles operate on the routes. We do not want to see a repeat of what happened in the past".

Background reasons for route closures:

  • The murder of SB Hadebe (a WATA member) in January;
  • The murder of WATA treasurer SM Zwane on January 21;
  • The murder of WATA vice-chairperson MT Ngubane on January 29;
  • Attacks on several minibus taxis between February 23-25 in Diepkloof;
  • Disruption of minibus taxi operations by armed men on March 1; and
  • Attacks on minibus taxis on March 5, which left six people wounded and 10 vehicles damaged.

African News Agency/ANA