Community and taxi owners talk

2017-09-22 06:00
Photo: siphelele nketoA community member is arrested and led away by an officer at the protest.

Photo: siphelele nketoA community member is arrested and led away by an officer at the protest.

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AT a meeting attended by the Franklin community, Department of Transport officials and the Greater Kokstad Municipality Mayor Bheki Mtolo last Saturday, the community complained about the bad treatment that taxi owners, who take them to Kokstad, receive.

The meeting was called by the municipality after community members protested and closed the R617 last week - the road is mostly used by trucks and buses - and police had to use rubber bullets to disperse them.
Many community members were arrested, but were later released at the protest.

The protest started after a Franklin taxi and van owner, Mzamo Mkhwalo, was allegedly told by Kokstad taxi owners to stop transporting people from Kokstad to Franklin without their permission.

People became angry with the Kokstad taxi owners and prevented them from entering their area, saying that Mkhwalo is humble and treats them well in his taxis.

“If we don’t have enough money to go to town, Mkhwalo transports us and we pay at month end.
“Sometimes we even phone Mkhwalo to take us to hospital at night without paying him,” said a Franklin community member at the meeting.

Speaking to Fever, Mkhwalo confirmed that in 2011 he began transporting people from Franklin to Kokstad, and people pay him at the end of the month.
“In 2006, I was an assistant taxi driver until I bought a van and two taxis within a period of six years,” he said.

Officials from the Department of Transport confirmed that Mkhwalo has no professional driving permit to transport people in his van and taxis, but promised to help him apply for it so he can work freely and legally.

Kokstad Taxi Owners’ Association spokesman Silulami Mfenqe denied that Kokstad taxis intimidated Mkhwalo.
He said consultations will take place between the taxi industry and the Franklin community to allow taxis to operate in the area.

Mtolo said the municipality wants to bring peace between the community and the taxi industry.
“We are negotiating with the Department of Transport to provide buses that will transport people from Franklin to Kokstad.”

                          

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