We won't be held to ransom, Gauteng premier warns taxi drivers

2015-07-03 15:46
Gauteng Premier David Makhura

Gauteng Premier David Makhura

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Pretoria - Government says it will not be held to ransom by aggrieved taxi owners who are opposing the modernisation of public transport.

“We will not allow the taxi operators to hold the community to ransom. The commuters must be protected to choose the mode of transport they want to use,” Gauteng Premier David Makhura told reporters in Mamelodi.

“People in Mamelodi are happy with the buses and we are committed to finding a solution that will ensure safety and security of the commuters.”

The briefing followed a hostile morning in the township, where at least two buses belonging to Autopax were pelted with stones and a person shot at a Putco bus. Four people were injured in the shooting, but no one has been arrested.

Makhura condemned the attack and said such behavior would not be tolerated. Police would be in the area until stability had returned. 

“We are in conversation with law enforcement agencies to bring Operation Fiela to the area. If the police require the assistance of the SA National Defence Force, they know which direction to follow and it will be provided.”

Transport MEC Ismail Vadi said the problems in Mamelodi were as a result of the taxi owners not understanding the process of applying for operating permits. He said because the route was already in operation, a new service could be appointed without the need to gazette or put to tender.

Putco cancelled its contract in Gauteng for eight routes, citing financial loss. Mamelodi was one of the routes. Autopax was appointed to fill the void, much to the dismay of taxi owners in the area, who questioned how Autopax was able to get permits while they have to wait a long time.

“A permit is not guaranteed. You apply for a permit and it can either be approved or declined, based on many factors. The municipalities also decide if they have capacity or if they need new taxis and if they say no then the permits are not issued,” Vadi said.

There has been an increase in taxi violence in the province with Mamelodi recording the highest number of incidents.

"We have made taxi violence a priority in the province. We have to address the issue," he said. 

Community Safety MEC Sizakele Molabane-Nkosi said in recent months, a group of four men from KwaZulu-Natal, were allegedly paid to "take out" taxi bosses in the area. She said two were arrested while two managed to flee.

"We also recovered a lot of arms when we arrested them."

Read more on:    autopax  |  putco  |  david makhura  |  johannesburg  |  transport  |  taxi violence

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