KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Mxolisi Kaunda together with Uthukela District Municipality Mayor SIphiwe Mazibuko and Alfred Duma Local Municipality Mayor Vincent Madlala briefing the media on his decision to suspend 41 local taxi routes. Picture: Mbuyiselo Ndlovu

THE plan to stop the taxi violence that has left 61 people dead in Ladysmith has been cautiously welcomed by the community.

Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Mxolisi Kaunda yesterday addressed the community on his decision to shut down 41 routes run by the Sizwe and the Klipriver taxi association.

The local routes run by those associations will be taken over by buses for the next six months, while the long distance routes will continue to be run by other associations with cooperation agreements with these two associations.

The two associations have been feuding for the past few years over the routes. Their clash has led to a number of killings, among them the deputy chairperson of the Klipriver Taxi association, Mzikayifani Ngobese, a few weeks ago.

Two people recently appeared in court in connection with Ngobese's killing.

Two other people were killed this past weekend.

Those at the meeting, however, expressed concerns as to whether the decision would be accepted by the two associations, who were not part of the meeting, and whether the security of buses and those in them could be guaranteed.

Others were concerned about the future of those employed as taxi drivers.

Nkosinathi Mthethwa said the absence of Klipriver and Sizwe from the meeting raised concerns.

"There are taxi operators who bought taxis and now will not be able to make payments on those taxis, what is going to happen to them," he asked.

Another resident, Thulasizwe Mthembu, said he was concerned whether the government would be able to protect the buses and the community travelling in those buses.

Kaunda said a detailed plan had been put in place to ensure community safety over the next six months.

He said the only recourse for the negative financial impact of the decision on the operators, would be to quickly reach a lasting agreement of peace.

"As a caring government, we cannot fold our arms when people are being killed," he said.