Protests over increased taxi fares intensify in Richmond

2013-07-16 00:00

PROTESTS over increased taxi fares in the Richmond area intensified yesterday with taxis being halted for several hours.

Community members reportedly prevented taxis from operating by blocking every road going in and out of Richmond from early morning until about 10 am when the police cleared the blockage.

They also allegedly stoned some taxis, prompting the owners to pull their taxis off the road.

For the past few weeks, the community has been in running battles with taxi operators after their decision to increase taxi fares by R1, R2 and, in some cases, even more — amounts the community says are unaffordable. Earlier this month, they cut down trees and used them to block the road in protest.

A community member, who said she was not part of the protest, said the situation was intense.

SAPS spokesperson Thulani Zwane said a crowd of around 250 or 300 protesters had gathered at the Ndaleni junction in Richmond.

“The crowd were cutting trees and blockading roads in areas such as Smozomeni, Mzinolovu and the main road to Ndaleni,” Zwane said. “The police managed to disperse the crowd and a case of public violence has been opened at Richmond SAPS.”

He said no arrests had been made.

Taxi operator Muzi Mkhize said tensions were increasing daily.

“The situation was much worse today. The community blocked many roads and it was almost impossible to work,” Mkhize said.

“In the past, they would block the road and when the police showed up, they would run away. [Today] they were standing their ground, and even stoning the cars that were passing by; some of our taxis did not work at all today because we feared they might be damaged by the stones being thrown.”

Mkhize said that a meeting last week had resolved nothing. “There had been no middle ground, they [commuters] told us they could not afford the increased fare.”

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