Chaos as taxi users protest card system

2015-11-26 11:15
The damaged box outside the taxi rank in Langalibalele Street.

The damaged box outside the taxi rank in Langalibalele Street. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Rocks and bricks were flung through the air on Langalibalele Street outside the taxi rank yesterday in a protest against the “no cash in taxis” campaign.

Later, the entrance to France location was blockaded as commuters, conductors and drivers from the Umgungundlovu Taxi Association protested against a new system that would no longer see cash exchange hands in taxis.

Umgungundlovu Taxi Association chairperson Bheki Sokhela said yesterday that the association had recently implemented a card system where money could be loaded on a card so it can be swiped inside the taxi instead of commuters having to pay taxi fare directly to the conductor.

“The community told us they wanted to use a card where they could load their fare on weekly or monthly and not have to pay cash every time they caught a taxi,” said Sokhela.

“The operation was properly introduced yesterday [Tuesday] and the drivers and conductors started protesting in France. Now the community has joined in.”

He said the card system would not cost more or less than paying cash, but was rather a system of convenience.

However, commuter and France community member Thembi Dumakude said the card system would eventually phase out the role of taxi conductors and lots of people would lose their jobs.

“This is a poor area … and we do not want that.”

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Constable Mthokozisi Ngobese said the public order police (POP) dispersed the crowd yesterday morning before the protesters moved near to the Grange.

“POP dispersed them again. No injuries or damage to property was reported,” he said.

Ngobese added that police were monitoring the situation.

Sokhela said a meeting would be held today to discuss the issues as community leaders were “failing to control” the crowd yesterday afternoon.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  taxi
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