The Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has urged minibus taxi leaders affiliated with Santaco to return to the table and work with the Western Cape Government (WCG) and City of Cape Town to resolve long-standing issues confronting the industry.
This follows after the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) in the Western Cape declared a taxi strike with immediate effect in reaction to the City of Cape Town’s implementation of the new amended traffic by-law, which has seen taxis impounded.
On Thursday, Santaco chairperson Mandla Hermanus said that all regions of Santaco in the Western Cape have resolved to recall all taxis from operating.
Winde said that they recognise the critical role the minibus taxi sector plays in the public transport industry and economy.
"However, calling a strike, that has been accompanied by violence, is not the answer to resolving the grievances of operators and drivers.
"This will be a blow to our shared economic growth and will impact the poor the hardest," Hermanus said.
Winde said he was disappointed by Santaco's sudden withdrawal from the minibus taxi task team, which had been established with the City of Cape Town to deal with issues raised by industry leaders.
He further added that long-term solutions are desperately needed but cannot be formulated under these circumstances.
"Violence is not the answer. You have the right to strike, but not to endanger the lives of residents and law enforcement officers and destroy property, “ Winde said.
“The safety of commuters, the very lifeblood of the taxi industry, who are bearing the brunt of this violent protest action, is of paramount importance. Unfortunately, we are currently investigating legal action against the minibus taxi associations to interdict the violence associated with the strike is wholly unacceptable," Winde added.
Western Cape Minister of Mobility Ricardo Mackenzie said that he sincerely hopes that Santaco will come back to the table. This is so that they can get the work of the minibus taxi task team back on track.
"It is disappointing that industry leadership chose to suspend its participation in the task team, which was created in good faith to put our heads together and make progress on the pressing issues facing the industry. The solutions are not simple or instant, but we are tackling them regardless and we appreciate the complex challenges for minibus taxi operators, which link to the broader transportation crisis in South Africa. I trust that my colleagues in the national government will treat the matter of industry formalisation as a matter of urgency and start fulfilling the commitments made in this regard," Mackenzie said.