Taxi drivers use private cars to ferry passengers
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Cape Town - The unavailability of minibus taxis on the road was not only felt by commuters but drivers too, with some resorting to using their private cars to transport commuters.
They said the taxi violence left their pockets dry, and to make money, they are discreetly using private vehicles outside malls and close to ranks.
“Driving commuters is our only source of income and now, not able to do that we are struggling,” said driver Sibulele Gamandana.
Another driver said, unlike other businesses, they do not get relief funds from the government.
For three weeks now, minibus taxis have been off the road due to conflict between the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) over the control of the Paarl-Mbekweni route.
MEC of Transport and Public Works Daylin Mitchell also closed the route, the Paarl ranks and minibus taxis and the warring organisations are not allowed to load or drop off commuters at the Bellville Interchange.
So far, 86 people have died this year since the renewed conflict started. Parliamentarian and United Democratic Front (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa and trade unionist leader Zwelinzima Vavi, held talks with the warring taxi bodies.
All parties then made recommendations to Mitchell and national Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Part of the recommendations is to combine the two associations into a single association.
Drivers were seen in Somerset Mall calling shoppers who need transport to use their service offered in private cars.
Securities would come and chase the driver away from the mall entrance saying management was complaining.
The driver disappears for few seconds before coming back to poach customers.
Rides are also more expensive compared to the ones offered by minibus taxis when operational.
Cata spokesperson Andile Seyamo said although they are not aware of drivers operating using private cars, he understands that they are hit hard by not being able to operate.
“Obviously drivers will struggle because they are not working but that does not mean we should risk people’s lives.
“Our taxis will only be back when there is a signed agreement as that will guarantee the safety of both drivers and passengers.”
On the other hand, Codeta resumed their service on routes they are allowed to operate in.
“When a taxi is not moving, a driver is not making money and that leads to suffering.
“We are happy to be back on the road with no incidents reported and want to reassure commuters that we are trying our best to get back to the service they are used to.
’We noticed that commuters are still scared but the police presence is giving them that sense of security.”
Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka, spokesperson to Mitchell, said they are evaluating the document sent by Holomisa and could not say if struggling drivers can be offered assistance.
“I’m not in a position to comment on whether a relief fund is possible or not.
“It must be noted that the decision to close Route B97 became necessary after concerted efforts to stop violence between operators on the route affiliated to Cata and Codeta failed.”