Taxi men protest over vehicle prices

2017-06-01 11:31
Taxis block the N2 outside Durban on Wednesday.

Taxis block the N2 outside Durban on Wednesday. (Rescue Care)

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While commuters suffered major disruptions and taxi operations were halted in Durban due to Wednesday’s protest by taxi operators, the uMgungundlovu Regional Taxi Association said it was business as usual in Pietermaritzburg.

The association said it had given strict instructions to its 40 associations that only three taxis per association could join Wednesday’s protest.

Although Sifiso Shangase, office manager for the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco), KZN, insisted operations were not interrupted in the capital on Wednesday, he could not provide the exact number of Pieter­maritzburg taxis that had joined the protest.

Unconfirmed reports suggested as many as 600 taxis had left the city on Wednesday morning to join the protest.

Shangase explained that taxis from other parts of the province and Gauteng had congregated in Pietermaritzburg overnight and left en masse in the morning.

He said the association had also given a strict instruction that only taxi operators and not drivers could join the protest so that operations would not be interrupted.

“We are happy with how the protest proceedings went,” he said. “Unfortunately, we heard complaints about the morning traffic on the N2 and the N3, but it was expected.

“It was a nation-wide demonstration supported by our colleagues from other provinces as far afield as Gauteng, Free State and Eastern Cape.

“Our drivers conducted themselves in a good manner and dispersed peacefully immediately after the memorandum had been handed over and signed by the Toyota leadership.”

Shangase added that the association had given Toyota seven days to reply to the content of the memorandum.

According to a statement issued by Santaco‚ the aim of the strike was to protest against an increase in the cost of the Toyota Quantum‚ introduced 10 years ago at a fully imported price of R220 000.

Now‚ however‚ the locally produced model costs R450 000 before interest.

This‚ they say‚ is crippling the industry.

MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Mxolisi Kaunda said the department supported the concerns of the taxi operators but warned against a “disruptive approach”.

“We appreciate that the taxi industry in the province has genuine economic issues to raise with their partners in the automotive, insurance and banking sectors.

“We fully support a constructive engagement by all stakeholders, especially on the critical and top-of-the-agenda issues of radical socio-economic transformation.

“However, what we will not agree to is a disruptive approach, because it threatens the safety of citizens using the road to go to their places of work, children attending schools and commuters travelling to various areas of destination,” he said.

Kaunda called on police to impound vehicles blockading the roads and to arrest drivers illegally parking their vehicles during the protest action.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  taxi protests

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