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B97 route closed again as arbitration process continues

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CATA taxis at Bellville taxi rank. PHOTO: Mzwanele Mkalipi
CATA taxis at Bellville taxi rank. PHOTO: Mzwanele Mkalipi

The B97 route has been closed for a further three months the provincial minister of Transport and Public Works Daylin Mitchell said in a statement on Thursday 25 November.

He said the B97 minibus taxi route between Mbekweni in Paarl and Bellville will be closed again starting from Friday 26 November. The route was closed following taxi violence between members of Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) and Congress of Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta) in July.

“I took the decision to extend the closure of the route after concerted efforts to stop violence between operators affiliated to the CATA and the Codeta failed,” said Mitchell.

He said due to incessant incidents of violence, damage to property and a loss of lives post 2017 emanating from route-related conflict on route B97, he published a notice in terms of the National Land Transport Act setting out proposed actions to stabilise the situation.

“The proposed actions were set out under Notice 416of 2021 in Government Gazette 44836 dated 9 July 2021. These actions included,inter-alia, the closure of route B97, the suspension of affected operating licences, the closure of all ranks in the Mbekweni area and the closure of certain loading lanes at the Bellville Public Transport Interchange,” he said.

Mitchell said these decisions were taken after a series of efforts by regulatory stakeholders to resolve the impasse between the affected parties had not been successful.

He said the violence had continued unabated and more lives had been lost.

“These interventions included,inter-alia, several mediation efforts, peace conferences, a pre-arbitration agreement in which both agreed to refer the matter to arbitration and to abide by the outcome thereof and a ceasefire agreement.” he stated.

CATA spokesperson Mandla Hermanus said as an organisation they welcomed the decision to extend the closure of the route.

“It would be impossible to reopen that route when the arbitration process has not been finalised as that would lead to renewed tensions between CATA and Codeta. We hope that this will be the last extension as the arbitration is at its final stages,” said Hermanus.

He said they urge law enforcement to ensure that the closure doesn’t affect other operations such as long distance operations as they are approaching the festive season.

Codeta spokesperson Andile Khanyi refused to comment citing that they didn’t receive a formal statement regarding the matter.

“We heard it from the media but the provincial minister didn’t inform us formally about his decision.

“It is difficult to respond to something that you hear outside. We will only respond when the minister formally informs us,” said Khanyi.

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