Taxi drivers clash in Kby

2016-06-15 06:00
POLICE vehicles and traffic officers stand guard to prevent the situation from getting out of hand. Photos: Boipelo Mere

POLICE vehicles and traffic officers stand guard to prevent the situation from getting out of hand. Photos: Boipelo Mere

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TAXI operators of the Kimberley Taxi Association (KTA) are demanding that the provincial Department of Transport intervene after a recent altercation with rival operators, who they have dubbed “a third force”.

The two groups of operators were at loggerheads on Friday morning (10/06). The police, traffic officials and officials of the department were called in to calm the situation.

During this altercation, the commuters were re-directed to board taxis at the market square taxi rank.

Both parties have accused each other of blocking the roads and have also claimed to have filed for interdicts against each other.

According to the members of the reported “third force”, they were former members of the KTA, but were kicked out of the municipal ranks after they had been granted permits to operate in the CBD.

“This fight comes a long way, since 2015. We want the Department of Transport and the Sol Plaatje Municipality to solve this problem, but until then, we will operate from the streets. We tried to sit in meetings with the association, but no resolutions had been taken,” said one of the “third force members”, who wanted to remain anonymous.

KTA responded that they had engaged with the department, municipality and police on the same day to try and find a way foward regarding the problem.

“We do not sit in meetings with them, they are non-members. In fact, we engaged with the relevant parties on Friday afternoon. We do not need to sit with them, we leave it to them to solve this matter,” said John Paul, chairperson of KTA, in response to the question of whether or not they could come to an agreement with their rivals.

He said the “third force” had been ignoring various warnings to return to operating in their own territory in Kim Parkas, as it was stated in their permits.

“We are not happy with the manner in which they operate, as they take our business and had been collecting commuters near our rank since last year.

“It is true that they have interdicted us against touching their taxis and drivers.

“Our drivers are sick and tired, as they are being provoked and our commuters are being intimidated. We want them to be arrested,” said Paul.

The department has condemned violence from the operators in any form and has stated that it is not a solution to any challenge.

“We remain committed to our open door policy and we are hard at work trying to find a lasting solution to the challenges facing the taxi industry,” said Keitumetse Moticoe of the department.

“We must, however, emphasise that anyone loading in a non-designated loading area will be transgressing the authority conferred to them by their operating licences.

“They will face the possibility of having their operating licences withdrawn. Anyone instigating violence will face similar consequences,” added Moticoe.

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