Durban taxi strike may resume

2012-05-25 08:43

Durban - Durban’s taxi strike might resume after the KwaZulu-Natal Transport Alliance said on Thursday there had been no response to drivers' demands.

Last week, 60 people were arrested during a strike by taxi drivers, which turned violent, after they complained they were being unfairly targeted by the eThekwini metro police.

Alliance chairperson Eugene Hadebe said there had been no response to the drivers' eight demands and that a meeting would be held with the affected taxi groups on Friday.

He said it was likely that the strike would resume either on Monday or on Tuesday.

He accused city councillors of running away from their responsibilities.

"We must give them a lesson in how to treat their customers."

Hadebe said metro police should not issue fines or impound taxis.

Motorists owe the eThekwini municipality R1.3 billion in unpaid fines.

The city had until Thursday to respond to the taxi drivers' demands.

They want traffic tickets be issued in isiZulu, and demand the cancellation of all warrants of arrest.

They further seek an end to traffic enforcement during morning and afternoon peak hours.

Other demands include that no Indians or whites write tickets because some taxi drivers do not speak English, and that drivers be allowed to pick up and drop off passengers anywhere.

Last Thursday and Friday, 60 people were arrested for public violence after police fought running street battles with the protesters.

Forty-six of them appeared in the Durban Magistrate's Court on Monday and were released on bail of R1 500 each. The others were released without being charged.

KwaZulu-Natal transport department spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said transport MEC Willies Mchunu had informed the provincial executive of developments in the negotiations.

He said the taxi industry had a mandate to transport commuters by virtue of the fact that they had been issued licences.

"Ours is that we have given them a mandate that they must uphold. We must be open to communication, but we cannot tolerate a situation where the law is undermined."

Ncalane said the department would seek negotiations with taxi owners and drivers in an attempt to resolve the problems.

He warned that the department would consider legal avenues to take the "harshest action possible" if there was a repeat of last week’s violence.

There were no negotiations taking place with the department on Thursday or Friday, but the department was hoping to resume talks next week, he said.

eThekwini metro spokesman Superintendent Eugene Msomi said the city had formulated a response to the demands.

It planned to present this to the protesters next week when everybody, including provincial officials and Mchunu, was available.

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