Holomisa, Vavi meet Western Cape taxi bosses to help resolve crisis over major route

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Extra buses have been laid on to serve the areas most hard hit by the closure of a major route in Cape Town as schools reopen.
Extra buses have been laid on to serve the areas most hard hit by the closure of a major route in Cape Town as schools reopen.
Gallo Images/Brenton Geach
  • UDM leader Bantu Holomisa and Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi are meeting with taxi associations in Cape Town to help them find common ground. 
  • A major route between Bellville and Paarl will close for two months from Monday over the deadly conflict between CATA and Codeta. 
  • The Western Cape Education Department is also calling for calm as children return to school on Monday.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa and Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi are holding urgent talks with warring taxi operators in Cape Town to help defuse the tension over routes.  

"We are going to meet at Bellville," said the Congress of Democratic Taxi Association's (Codeta) Andile Khanyi on Sunday.

 "We have also invited bishops, priests, and everybody to come and pray for us, because these killings need to come to an end," he told News24.

The Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association's (CATA) Mandla Hermanus confirmed the meeting, sandwiched between mediation of the past weeks, and arbitration which starts on Monday. Vavi was attending in his capacity as the leader of a union. 

Saftu had already sounded the alarm on the school drop-out rate during the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on job security.

READ | Cape Town taxi violence: City businesses put staff up in hotels 

The shootings meant that many operators not part of the fight also did not work last week, leaving people with fewer options to get to their jobs. 

Drivers, passengers and people in the vicinity of the shootings had also been killed.

Some were scared of losing their jobs, and others were losing pay for days missed. Private cars were also shot at as commuters struggled to find alternative forms of transport. 

Community organisations in the affected areas had also been in meetings with the taxi associations. 

The Western Cape Education Department pleaded with warring taxi operators to stop fighting for the sake of children returning to school. 

"I make this personal appeal to those instigating the violence: please stop," said Education MEC Debbie Schäfer. 

"Apart from the damage you are doing to our already fragile economy, you will be preventing learners once again from attending school. They have lost out so much over the last year. As it is, it will impact on their future and that of the economy."

Schäfer said children who relied on school food programmes needed to get to school. 

"No doubt some among you have children yourselves, so you know how serious the situation in education is right now. We all need to think of our children's safety and their futures right now, so the violence and disruption needs to stop." 

READ | W Cape govt suspends minibus taxi services on Paarl-Bellville route for 2 months amid deadly feud

On Friday, Western Cape Transport MEC Daylin Mitchell closed the B97 - the route from Mbekweni in Paarl to Bellville. 

Two taxi ranks in Mbekweni, certain local route loading lanes at the Bellville Public Transport Interchange (PTI), the long-distance facility at the Bellville PTI, the "Paint City" rank in Bellville, and an informal rank in Bellville had also been closed to minibus taxis for two months.

The closed loading lanes at Bellville Public Transport Interchange are: 

Tygervalley, Durbanville, Welgemoed, Gugulethu, Mowbray, Nyanga, Kraaifontein, Kuils River, Lower Crossroads, Langa, Samora Machel, Stellenbosch, Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha, Happy Valley, Mfuleni, Wesbank.

These are the other routes affected, and the bus services available to help on the routes:

Closed ranks in Bellville and Mbekweni (Department of Transport)
News24 Department of Transport
Closed long distance routes (Department of Transport)
News24 Department of Transport
Extra long distance buses between Bellville and Paarl during the week. (Department of Transport)
News24 Department of Transport

Mitchell closed the routes in a bid to prevent further violence. 

Commuters were advised to use Metrorail services functioning in their areas.

Metrorail said the bulk of critical train operations and station management employees were able to return to duty from Monday after a Covid-19 incident, and lockdown Level 4 regulations, and would be able to help ease the situation caused by the suspension of the taxi route.  

On the northern lines, the total number of train trips would be increased from 14 to 45, including the Malmesbury and Worcester services.

From Wellington to Kraaifontein, the shuttle service would offer 15 trips and the service between Kraaifontein and Cape Town via Monte Vista would operate 26 trips. The timetable is here.

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