Cape Town - The Inkatha Freedom Party has called for urgent action to prevent a national taxi strike bringing the country to a standstill.
Parts of the country, including Johannesburg and Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town have been affected by taxi strikes in recent weeks which saw outbreaks of violence and massive freeway blockages.
The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) in KwaZulu-Natal has called for a national taxi strike next month, with the main grievance being around taxi operators unhappy over what they termed exorbitant costs associated with acquiring vehicles, particularly Toyota Quantum minibuses.
IFP spokesperson on Transport, Khethamabala Sithole, said: "Urgent coordinated action from national, provincial governments and the taxi industry is needed to avoid another possible national minibus taxi strike, which might leave commuters stranded and businesses affected next month as announced by SANTACO KZN."
He said the IFP was calling on the Department of Transport to take urgent action to prevent the strike and deliver an amicable solution to this situation which has "lurched from one crisis to another" in recent months.
"This situation cannot be allowed to continue. Passengers who are forced to use taxis every day have been affected in previous strikes and will be affected again if another strike takes place. Passengers have suffered enough. Action is needed now to address this problem. Given the pivotal role the taxi industry plays in the movement of people in South Africa, any taxi strike will have an enormous impact on the economy."
"We need to see bold action on the part of government to prevent this strike. Government needs to make it clear to the taxi industry that it will not tolerate passengers and businesses suffering any more disruption as a result of their strike action," said Sithole.
"The frequency of these strikes, right in the middle of the month, only serves to underline that urgent action is required to help reduce the impact of these strikes. Government must place real solutions on the table and implement plans that will ameliorate the effects of these repeated strikes and prevent them disrupting the travel plans of millions of citizens."
Sithole said he supported the call by his colleague in Parliament, Russel Cebekhulu, who has asked for government to subsidise the taxi industry.