Taxi dispute gets worse

2016-08-31 06:00
MEMBERS of the Public Order Policing (POP) clean De Villiers Street in Bohlokong, Bethlehem, during the recent strike by the taxi drivers of the Bethlehem Taxi Association (BTA). Photo: Tladi Moloi

MEMBERS of the Public Order Policing (POP) clean De Villiers Street in Bohlokong, Bethlehem, during the recent strike by the taxi drivers of the Bethlehem Taxi Association (BTA). Photo: Tladi Moloi

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BOHLOKONG. – The long-standing rift over operating permits between Bethlehem’s rival taxi associations is worsening following the arrest of seven taxi drivers for public violence.

Seven men belonging to the Bethlehem Taxi Association (BTA) are facing the might of the law after they were arrested for public violence.

They have been released on bail of R1 000 each.

They are expected to reappear in the Bethlehem Magistrate’s Court on 29 September on charges of public violence.

They were among the angry drivers of BTA that barricaded De Villiers Street with stones as their frustration built up following rival body Mphatlalatsane Taxi Association’s (MTA) refusal not to operate.

The act by BTA was another attempt to force their opposition to stop operating in town as talks over the issuing of operating permits and the control of roads proved to be futile.

Members of MTA have called for an immediate intervention by the MEC of Police, Roads and Transport, Butana Komphela, to resolve the long-standing battle which has caused panic in the taxi industry in town.

The rival taxi associations have been at loggerheads since 2008.

Express Eastern Free State has learnt that the issuing of operating permits were the bone of contention.

Efforts by BTA members to force the rival body off the road for at least two days did not bring any solution, as it merely riled up opposition taxi drivers who were left fuming, insisting that they too want to be in business.

Members of BTA apparently regard MTA as “pirates” and were accusing them of taking their business of transporting passengers.

One of the BTA drivers, who preferred to remain anonymous for safety reasons, said they were unable to make a profit, blaming MTA for “stealing” their passengers and also invading their routes.

“We are failing to meet our targets because of this nonsense,” he said.

Teboho Sejane, the chairperson of MTA, is adamant that they will not stop opera-ting, as they are also in the business to make a living, adding: “We will serve the community with care and respect regardless of the challenges.”

He has, however, admitted that they were operating without the permits.

“We have about 90 taxis and we won’t stop operating.

“We want MEC Komphela, so that we can explain to him the challenges that we are facing with the opposition.

“We want the MEC to treat this as a matter of urgency before people die,” he said.

Sejane added that their differences over permits date as far back as 2008 and no one was willing to come forth with a solution.

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