Cape Town taxi protest 'calm'

2010-03-23 13:07

Cape Town - Minibus taxi representatives embarked on a one-day strike on Tuesday in protest against what they claim is intimidation and harassment by law enforcement authorities.

Police were on high alert, but no serious incidents had been reported by midday.

The strike was called by the Western Cape Taxi Alliance, one of the two major taxi groupings in the province.

Impounded vehicles

In a memorandum handed to an official from the provincial transport ministry at mid-morning, they called for the immediate and unconditional release of all impounded vehicles.

They also demanded a stop to roadblocks and forced offloading of passengers, urging instead that authorities "show us the same courtesy that it affords Golden Arrow Bus Services and inspect our vehicles at mutually agreed times".

Alliance spokesperson Mvuyisi Mente told Sapa the strike was going "very well", and that all taxis were off the road.

There had been no incidents that he was aware of.

The strike would not continue on Wednesday, but if there was no satisfactory response to the memo within seven days, it would resume.

Trevor Steyn, spokesperson for Cape Town mayoral committee member for transport Elizabeth Thompson, said shortly before noon that the strike had been "relatively calm and peaceful".

There had been some congestion on roads, which was likely due to people using their own vehicles rather than taxis, and some reports of commuters being late for work.

However Golden Arrow buses and other service providers had increased their services for the day.

Zero tolerance

All arms of the law - the SA Police Service and metro police - had been deployed, and would remain on the ground.

They would show zero tolerance for any incident related to the strike, he said.

He said the strike was apparently at this stage supported by only the alliance.

However members of the SA National Taxi Council were "on high alert", and some were grounding their own vehicles for fear of intimidation.

Earlier, SA police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk said police had been deployed at hot spots and on routes all over Cape Town since 02:00 and were monitoring the situation.

"Things are okay so far," he said.

There had been no reports of roads being barricaded by protesters, he said.