Johannesburg - Thousands of commuters in Gauteng were stranded on Monday after public taxi operators took their vehicles off the road in protest against what they called inadequate support to the industry from the government to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, local media reported.
The government has provided R1.1 billion to the sector to prop up the sector, which has, like other numerous businesses in South Africa, been forced to operate far below capacity under a nationwide lockdown imposed from March 27 to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)
The government has indicated it cannot afford the taxi industry's demand for the state to increase its support to around R5 billion.
On Monday EyeWitness News said soldiers and police were working to reopen major routes blocked by rowdy taxi drivers in Pretoria and the country's economic hub Johannesburg who were forcing even private motorists back, effectively barring commuters from seeking alternative forms of transport to work.
Johannesburg bus transport system Rea Vaya posted on its Twitter account that it was experiencing an unusually high number of desperate commuters at its stations and bus stops, resulting in long queues and waiting travel times.
— Rea Vaya Bus Transit (@ReaVayaBus)
Many employees have only recently gone back to work after being grounded for more than two months because of the lockdown, with some going without pay during that period.
The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) condemned the blockage of roads and intimidation of commuters by its members in Gauteng.
"We urge Santaco Gauteng and the general taxi industry to demonstrate a peaceful shutdown," it posted on Twitter.
We condemn blocking of roads and intimidation of people. We urge SANTACO Gauteng and the general taxi industry to demonstrate a peaceful shutdown.— SANTACO (@SA_Taxis) June 22, 2020