Violent protests, which saw taxis set alight, had plagued Soweto over routes. Taxi ranks and routes were closed for three months. File Photo: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - The Gauteng Provincial Government said it would reopen taxi ranks and routes in Soweto following the signing of a peace deal between rival taxi associations.

The ranks and routes were closed in March following violent clashes between the taxi associations. 

The signing of the peace deal between the Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe) and Witwatersrand Taxi Association (Wata) follows a series of urgent meetings between the two and the Gauteng roads and transport department. 

Speaking at the peace deal signing ceremony at the historic Hector Piertersen Memorial, Roads and Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo said that the agreement was reached through negotiations between the two affected associations. 

"Our country is known, the world over, for the 1994 negotiated settlement. This agreement is a product of negotiations that we started in the last two weeks. Moving forward negotiations is the only way we should find solutions to problems that face the taxi industry in the area. We cannot resort to violence and the killing of innocent lives when we face challenges," said Mamabolo.

The signing ceremony now paves the way for the department to engage affected communities to appraise them on the way forward. The public meeting will take place at Uncle Tom’s Hall in Soweto on Wednesday.

Mamabolo said the agreement commits the taxi associations to the cessation of all hostilities while the department conducts an investigation into the duplication of registrations for certain routes and the issuance of problematic operating licenses for members of the two associations. 

The investigation would be carried out over a period of three to four months. Mamabolo has committed to making the findings public.

"The two associations will set up a joint operational and monitoring team that will draft operational rules. Our department will design and issue a common sticker to be affixed on all 200 taxis that will be operating from the loading points," said Mamabolo.

The routes and taxi ranks will open on June 18.

African News Agency