Cape taxis back on the road

2011-03-16 08:46

Taxis in Western Cape should be running as normal by noon following ministerial intervention that led to the suspension of their strike.

SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) secretary-general Philip Taaibosch said: “The strike has officially been suspended from yesterday [Tuesday] late afternoon. I’m sure that by [noon] all the taxis will be on the road.”

Around 12 000 operators went on strike on Monday because they were fed up with their vehicles being impounded and licensing delays.

Taaibosch said the minister of transport intervened and following an urgent meeting yesterday, the interested parties agreed that a task team would be set up to resolve the issue they raised, within 30 days.

“We had a very fruitful meeting with the minister of transport yesterday and his intervention has worked tremendously for the Western Cape and particularly in Cape Town,” he said.

Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele said: “As the minister of transport, it is my responsibility to ensure that public transport services are available at all times.”

The operators’ main issues were that vehicles were being impounded for going off their route, regardless of whether this was to detour roadworks or gridlock to get their customers to their destinations and to work on time.

Operating licences were also taking too long to be processed and Taaibosch suggested that some municipalities might be doing this because they had their own public transport systems which they wanted to protect.

Operators supported the enforcement of safety measures, but questioned why they were not given the option of being able to have their taxis towed back to their owners for necessary repairs, as is usual with private vehicles, instead of being impounded.

In the short team, those at yesterday’s meeting agreed that impounded vehicles would be released to their owners on proof of ownership.

“The release is not affecting the law at all, the law should at all times take its course,” said Taaibosch.

“It’s not about safety issues – the public is getting misled. Safety issues might be some of the problem, but it’s not completely that way. The majority of the taxis impounded are not old.”

Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the labour federation became involved because it was concerned about the impact the strike was having on the federations members’ work commute.

Ehrenreich, who is the ANC’s mayoral candidate for the City of Cape Town, said: “We are concerned that the strike was crippling our members and the fight is between government and taxi bosses and the government [provincial and local] is not caring that there is no transport for workers.”

Unionisation in the taxi industry is low relative to other transport sectors, but some taxi workers have joined Cosatu.
The Bus Rapid Transit system is also expected to be included in the task team’s deliberations.

The task team includes representatives of national, provincial and local government, Santaco and Cosatu.

According to Western Cape public safety MEC Albert Fritz one person died and several others were injured during the strike.

At least 23 people were arrested in incidents which included stonings and a bus being set alight.

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