Impounded taxis at Old Drive-in site.Picture Zanele Zulu.21/09/2015

Durban - A four-day strike by Durban’s taxi industry was suspended after an agreement was reached between the taxi industry and the municipality, KwaZulu-Natal Transport Alliance chairman Henry Mbatha said on Thursday night.

Mbatha said the municipality had agreed to release all the minibus taxis and a R1 500 fine would be levied in respect of each of them.

Initially, the eThekwini Municipality had said a taxi without a permit would be released after payment of a R3 000 fine, and would not be allowed back on the road until it had an operating licence from the provincial Transport Department.

Mbatha said that at 9am on Friday the taxi owners and their lawyer would be at the old Durban drive-in site to take possession of their vehicles.

He said the agreement was signed by city manager S’bu Sithole and other senior officials from the KZN Transport Alliance.

MEC Willies Mchunu was also expected to sign the agreement on Friday, he said.

“Those without permits will be allowed to continue operating. But on October 2, the Transport Department will have workshops to educate the taxi industry about permit applications, and also help those who had previously applied for permits but had problems,” he said.

 

The Mercury tried to reach the city’s communications officers on Thursday, but they did not answer their phones.

Kwanele Ncalane, a spokesman for Mchunu, was unable to confirm that a deal had taken place.

Durban public transport was disrupted for a fourth day on Thursday after minibus taxi operators went on strike last week demanding the release of hundreds of impounded taxis.

Thousands of commuters have been without transport since Monday afternoon.

More than 160 minibus taxis were impounded by the metro police for operating without legal route permits.

In some parts of the city, private buses and taxis have been stopped and prevented from transporting people.

The eThekwini Municipality and the provincial Department of Transport said earlier on Thursday that they had created a platform to expedite the process of releasing the 85 minibus taxis which were still impounded.

However, they said they had not been able to come to an agreement and the stalemate remained.

 

To minimise the impact on commuters, the municipality had requested that the Passenger Rail Association of SA increase the number of trains available to ferry commuters. Durban Transport buses were also operating to provide commuters with transport.

Law enforcement had also been beefed up, as strike violence had been reported.

 

The Mercury