Taxi strike leaves Durban commuters stranded

File picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

File picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

Published Sep 22, 2015

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Durban – Thousands of Durban commuters were left stranded in the city on Tuesday as the taxi industry embarked on a strike protesting the impounding of more than 300 vehicles by the eThwekwini Metro Police.

There was a heavy police presence in the city centre which was devoid of minibus taxis.

The South African National Taxi Council’s eThekwini spokesman Thembisa Duma said taxi bosses had held a meeting in Durban on Tuesday, and had resolved to continue the strike.

All 112 taxi associations in the Durban region would take part in the strike, he said.

The minibus taxis were impounded because drivers did not have the necessary route permits. But the taxi bosses claim there was a massive backlog in the issuing of permits on the side of the provincial transport department.

“For us to transfer the permit, it takes almost two years. To renew the permit takes almost 10 months,” Duma said.

He said a resolution was taken by taxi bosses not to stage protests. “But I can tell you if they can’t respond, we will request the province to join the strike, failing which we will ask the national [association] to strike,” Duma said.

Reacting to a statement by the KwaZulu-Natal transport department that it was not at fault over the permits, Duma said he had receipts from March which proved he had paid for his permits which still had not been issued.

“Next door, in the Eastern Cape, you go there and you renew a licence, you get it at the counter. Here, same government, same political party, we don’t know what’s going on. Here, it’s hell,” he said.

Willies Mchunu, the KwaZulu-Natal transport, community safety and liaison MEC said in a statement that over 2407 permits have been issued in the Durban region alone since last year. He said that out of these, over 265 permits had not been collected by the respective taxi owners.

“The allegations that the Department of Transport has not been issuing permits is a lame excuse and an attempt to distract us from dealing with real issues,” Mchunu said.

“The fact that some are owing traffic fines is making it difficult for them to obtain permission from the municipality to be issued with permits. Equally, the on-going illegal recruitment of people by some taxi associations to become operators without permits is the main source of the taxi industry instability, over and above route encroachment.”

There were no immediate reports of violence and comment could not immediately be obtained from the Durban Chamber of Commerce to ascertain the impact of the strike on businesses in the city.

African News Agency

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