- It was hoped that the move would quell some of the ongoing violence which had claimed several lives.
- According to the provincial government, the closure of the route was expected "to bring stability to the public transport environment".
- Additional Golden Arrow bus trips have been scheduled between Bellvillle and Paarl for the period of the closure.
Western Cape Transport MEC Daylin Mitchell has announced the suspension of the B97 taxi route between Paarl and Bellville for two months, from Monday 26 July, following ongoing taxi violence which has claimed dozens of lives this year.
"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 have also been closed to minibus taxis for two months," Mitchell said.
Extra Golden Arrow bus trips have been scheduled between Bellville and Paarl for the two months. Commuters would also be able to use existing Metrorail train services between Bellville and Paarl.
Passengers wanting to use a Golden Arrow bus to travel from the Bellville PTI to Paarl have been advised to use the Voortrekker Road or Durban Road bus stops. These stops are approximately 800m from the Bellville PTI.
Mitchell said concerted multi-stakeholder attempts to resolve the conflict between the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) and Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) were unsuccessful.
The department said the local Paarl Alliance Taxi Association (PATA), a Codeta affiliate, and CATA Boland both have claimed rights to run the B97 route. However, Codeta felt that the government "failed" to "stick to the truth" when it took the decision.
"The government knew very well who had the legal rights to operate on that route, but made no attempts to stick to the truth," Codeta spokesperson Andile Khanyi told News24. He added that violence was inevitable after the transport department registered two rival associations to one route.
"They are just punishing the association."
Meanwhile, South African National Taxi Association (Santaco) spokesperson Nazeem Abdurahman said the decision to suspend the route for minibus taxis was taken in the interest of commuter safety.
"[The decision] is not very good because our members will lose out on work, however, we have to respect the decision because too many people have died due to the violence," he added.
Abdurahman said a number of people were unhappy about the decision.
News24's attempt to get comment from Cata were unsuccessful.
"The closure of these routes and ranks is expected to bring stability to the public transport environment in affected areas and to support the process of achieving a lasting peace," Mitchell added.
Did you know you can listen to articles? Subscribe to News24 for access to this exciting feature and more.