Soweto Taxi bosses VS Government: ‘Commuters are the ones who put food on your table’

Sifaniso Mchunu.

Orlando and Meadowlands residents were called to a meeting by Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) of Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane and MEC of Transport, Ismail Vadi to announce and engage the public about the decision they have taken to close the taxi ranks.

The meeting was held at Uncle Tom’s rank in Orlando West yesterday.

Nkosi-Malobane said the affiliates of both Nancefield-Dube West Taxi Association (NANDUWE) and Witwatersrand Association (WATA) don’t respect the lives of their customers.

“Commuters are the ones who put food on your table. “This is the only successful black business; this one still belongs to us.

A glimpse of the attendees.

“Why can’t we run our business in peace and in a professional way?” she asked.

Nkosi-Malobane said the associations depended on taxi commuters for a living and the commuters depended on them for transport.

“How do they expect us to use their services when we don’t feel safe?

“We will not wait for hundred people to die before decisive action is taken to quell the taxi violence.

Nkosi-Malobane explained how they tried to get the two associations to broker a truce in the area.

MEC Ismail Vadi addressing attendees at the meeting.

“We tried to urge them to tolerate each other; even the pastors tried to intervene but failed. We tried almost everything in our power to stop the violence and a number of arrests were made.

“MEC Vadi was forced to take this drastic decision. “We asked them to protect their customers. Several court cases were started by the taxi associations,” said Nkosi-Malobane

She added that the last court case led to an investigation to determine which associations should operate on the disputed routes.

“The process found that WATA was the one trespassing. “They’re only allowed to drop people off and are not allowed to bind at the ranks.

“Both of them decided to deploy heavily armed security companies to guard their ranks, endangering the lives of their customers and their drivers,” said Nkosi-Malobane.

Ronald Swartz, Ismail Vadi and Pinky Ncube.

Nkosi-Malobane said the commuters are not supposed to beg the taxi owners and drivers but it should be the opposite.

“The commuters also have the right to boycott and associations need to learn the hard way about the proper way in which they should be treated.

“MEC Vadi informed both the association that he would be closing the routes and that they should try convincing him he should not pursue this course of action.

“WATA and NANDUWE failed to come up with a proposal on why the routes should not be closed. We closed all the routes so that the associations will come up with a plan to make peace,” she said.

Nkosi-Malobane read the list of the taxi ranks that are going to be closed for a period of one month.

Sithembiso Mkhwanazi.

“This does not mean other forms of transport will not be allowed to use the routes. We are not going to provide special transport, the only taxis that you cannot use is WATA and NANDUWE until they respect you.

“I want them to come and apologise to the community. “You will not continue killing our people. Our intention is not to stop them from operating or to bankrupt them,”

Nkosi-Malobane said this was a way to force them to operate in peace and tight security measures would be used.

Vadi urged the associations to respect their democratic government.

“Why should we take you seriously if you commit all these unlawful acts? Business people are counting money and we are busy counting dead bodies.

“We don’t want to see your drivers and leaders losing their lives, ” said Vadi.

Sifaniso Mchunu.

Chairperson of Meadowlands patrollers, Bafana Zwane and Orlando patrollers, Dumisani Twala were given a chance to say what they thought about the decision taken by the MEC.

Zwane said the places that were regarded as the taxi hot spots are now turned into slaughterhouses.

“We always find dead bodies and that kind of behaviour is uncalled for. We ask the taxi owners to meet and make peace with each other,”

Zwane said the people from Dube hostel must stop destroying facilities and looting shops when they strike for service delivery.

“You can’t protest with guns and expect people from Eskom to come and address your issue,” he said.

Residents were given the opportunity to respond where most of them had concerns about safety in the hostels and in the schools near the hostels.

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Andile Maxopani

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