Taxi strike called off, team to look at grievances

2010-04-20 00:00

A MINIBUS taxi strike, which started yesterday in Durban, was called off after a three-hour meeting last night.

The strike was called off after Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu formed a technical administrative committee to look at the grievances of taxi operators.

The strike, which left thousands of commuters around Durban stranded yesterday, was triggered by the impounding of minibus taxis by Metro Police officers.

“Everything is okay now. The strike has been called off,” said Transport spokesperson Lungile Ndlovu.

Yusuf Khaliva, spokesperson for the Concerned Taxi Operators (CTO), which organised the strike, confirmed to The Witness yesterday that no taxis, including long-distance taxis from outside areas, could enter Durban yesterday.

In a statement yesterday, Mchunu said the technical administrative committee, which will include Transport officials, Metro Police officials and eThekwini management, will be set up with immediate effect. “The team will look into the merits of each individual taxi and the charges laid against it. This information will be forwarded to the respective associations to ensure commitment, so there can be compliance by their members.”

Mchunu said this approach will ensure that every case is addressed in such a way that no one feels aggrieved.

Mchunu and eThekwini Mayor Obed Mlaba’s weekend attempt to avert the strike, by holding meetings with all structures representing operators, failed as the strike went ahead.

But Mchunu then requested a meeting with the Metro Police and eThekwini management “to discuss the attitudes of law enforcers when on duty, the attitudes of motorists towards law enforcers, and bribery as another worrying factor”.

“This meeting will have to formulate a comprehensive long-term plan that will address the stated issues. We will continue engaging with the taxi industry leadership, particularly the SA National Taxi Council, in ensuring smooth operations in this industry. We strongly believe that the strike action was not necessary at this stage, while matters put before us are being addressed.”

Mchunu’s spokesperson Bheki Mncube said there were no reports of violent incidents associated with the taxi strike.

Khaliva said that for the past month, about 50 minibus taxis were impounded a day by the eThekwini Metro Police for operating without permits. “Our vehicles are released after operators have paid fines of between R1 500 and R3 000. We are concerned as the delay to issue permits is not our fault. It is the provincial Transportation Board that is delaying.”

He added that the taxi strike issues will only be resolved when the Metro Police suspend the impounding of their vehicles, while the permit scenario is being sorted out by the Transportation Board.

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