Taxi strikes ‘not good for economy’

2014-11-17 19:34

Taxi strikes like the one that left commuters stranded in Johannesburg today are hampering the country’s economic drive, says the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).

“The recurring taxi strikes and threats of more strikes are hampering South Africa’s overall economic drive, not to mention the additional reputational risk faced by the country,” said the JCCI.

“Transportation is a crucial engine for economic growth and social development in South Africa and in the absence of alternative networks of public transport, strikes such as these have a significant impact for people getting to and from work.”

The Chamber said the impact of the strike had been massive but it had not yet received direct feedback from its members.

The strike had a “compounding and long-term effect on the broader economy”.

“The JCCI appeals to the taxi associations and unions to work together to find a way to communicate grievances where little to no impact is made on commuters who rely on such transportation every day.”

Johannesburg metro police said the M1 was blocked by the Xavier street off-ramp by striking taxi operators.

“In the morning they occupied the freeway and got out of their taxis. We had to try and clear the freeways,” said Inspector Edna Mamonyane.

She said people travelling from Soweto and Vereeniging were affected and the metro police closed the freeways and diverted traffic.

“We had to make sure that all the traffic was off the freeway. From 8am to 10am it was chaotic,” she said.

Mamonyane said the protesters gathered in the CBD where they handed over their memorandum but “cleared immediately” when it started to rain.

Earlier, thousands of taxi operators affiliated to the United Taxi Associations Front (UTAF) marched in the Johannesburg CBD, said the association.

UTAF secretary Vusi Mazibuko said the march, to the departments of transport and community safety, was to hand over a memorandum because the taxi industry felt it was being sidelined by the City of Johannesburg.

Mazibuko said the march would be attended by 15 taxi associations in Gauteng and would include between 6000 to 10 000 taxi drivers.

Gauteng traffic police spokesperson Obed Sibasa said the strike was over by 3pm.

“The strike had an impact on traffic. There were traffic delays. Quite a number of people never made it to work and school,” he said.

It was not possible to report on rumours of another taxi strike on Wednesday but Sibasa said traffic would be back to normal tomorrow.

Gauteng education spokesperson Phumla Sekhonyane said that despite worries that matric pupils would be affected, no students were affected.

“It is reported that the exams have gone very well. We haven’t received reports that learners were not able to write today,” she said.

She said 1000 students were expected to write agricultural science this morning and 25 000 students were expected to write history in the afternoon.

UTAF was not immediately available for comment after the strike.

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