THOUSANDS of taxi commuters will be left stranded tomorrow as operators are set to go on strike.

The strike has been called for by operators affiliated to the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco).

But the organisation’s provincial chairperson, Vernon Billet, has said “we were not informed about the strike action”.

“We are not aware of the strike. It was never communicated to us and is not something we support,” he said.

Billet said “a group who want to change policies of the organisation outside of conference who refused to listen to reason” were the instigators.

At the centre of the factionalism for Santaco was a disagreement over the election of new leadership in the province.

Organisers of the strike said the current provincial leadership’s term came to an end in March. They want certain issues ironed out before the next provincial elective conference.

The group has asked Donald Grant, MEC for Public Works and Transport, to intervene before the strike can be called off.

Besuthu Ndungane, spokesperson for the Congress of Democratic Taxi Association, and a task team appointed to address the issue said “if Grant agrees to demands, taxis would be back on the roads by midday”.

Grant’s spokesperson, Siphesihle Dube, said the MEC would meet with the taxi operators tomorrow.

“Fact of the matter is, there will be no taxis operating across the province from as early as 4am, and if the minister at our meeting agrees to our demands we will be back on the road,” said Ndungane.

“But if not, then we are prepared to make this an indefinite strike.”

Billet added: “This is election time in the taxi industry and there are people who want to change elections and organisational policies outside of conference, which is the only place where such issues can be discussed.

“We have tried to educate them on this matter, but they won’t listen to reason.”

Achmat Dyason, a member of the task team, said whether the current leadership sanctioned the strike was irrelevant as their mandate to speak on behalf of operators ended in March.

“What is most important is that we want a pre-conference in order to discuss issues and documentations that will guide us at the elective conference,” he said.

“We elect leadership every four years and our leadership was disjointed.

“A lot of issues that need leadership went unaddressed and the provincial leadership does not provide any sort of direction.

“This is why we took the decision to strike. We are not prescribing who must be elected, but we want a fair process so that Mafia-style people are not elected who do not advance the needs of our members.

“We do not take this strike lightly. We have engaged the MEC on this matter for over a year. The conference should have taken place in March already and still there is yet to be a decision on when it will happen.

“We are mindful of the interests of our commuters but it appears this is the only thing that will move the MEC.”