File photo: ANA.

JOHANNESBURG - The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) said on Tuesday that it welcomes the Gauteng Department of Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo’s resolution to reopen the Soweto taxi routes, which had been closed earlier this year.

The routes were closed in March following deadly squabbles between Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe) and the Witwatersrand Taxi Association (Wata).

Disgruntled taxi operators had also resorted to blockading the city centre in protest of the route closures.

Nanduwe, Wata and the department have since signed an agreement that will govern the previously disputed routes.

"We are pleased as the IFP that sanity has prevailed in the end and hope that a lasting solution will be put in place to ensure that the people of this province are never again inconvenienced because of the battles involving taxi associations and government," said the party in Gauteng. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Mamabolo lifted the ban on the taxi routes that affected parts of Soweto routes that included; Makhetha Stores Taxi Rank, Mofolo Sizwe Stores Taxi Rank, Kwa-Mthetwa Stores Taxi Rank, Dube Station Taxi Rank, Makhetha Garage Taxi Rank and Uncle Tom’s Hall Taxi Rank.

"From this experience, we hope that both parties will learn to respect and take each other serious because their fallout also affects commuters who are reliant of this mode of transport," said the IFP.

"As the IFP we believe that government must stop being a bystander and intervene in regulating the taxi industry which serves as a large employer and a critical pillar of our country’s public transport sector.

"It is undeniable that factors such as flawed permit issuing process, delays in the issuing of operating licences, lack of government subsidy and lack of monitoring of taxi ranks fuels the tensions and conflicts within and among taxi associations."

The IFP said the government must work hand in hand with taxi associations to ensure a safe, reliable and affordable transport system, which is necessary for the province’s economic growth, job creation and people’s quality of life.

African News Agency (ANA)