Slow roll-out of taxi permits hits commuters
HUNDREDS of taxi commuters in the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast will be stranded until Thursday as a protest against the slow roll-out of taxi permits continues.
Since Friday, rush-hour commuters from KwaDukuza and surrounding areas have been forced to find alternative transport as taxi operators claimed that their vehicles had been impounded for not having permits.
Taxi bosses were also bitter after two taxi owners registered with the Stanger Taxi Association were wounded in a drive-by shooting in KwaDukuza while returning from a meeting with departmental officials in Durban on Sunday night.
Ilembe Taxi Council chairman Bongani Mkhwanazi said yesterday the taxi operators would not take to the road until questions on the slow roll-out of permits and the shooting were answered.
"We have stopped our vehicles because of the challenges we faced on the road," he said.
He said it was unfortunate that commuters had to suffer but operating without a permit was too challenging because vehicles were being impounded by the Road Traffic Inspectorate and Special Operations (Shanela) for breaking the law.
"We have a serious challenge here. Even our insurers have refused to pay for our claims when we are involved in accidents without operating permits. We are not going to start operating until we have permits. All we want is for the department of transport to issue us with permits," Mkhwanazi said.
He said MEC for transport Willies Mchunu had promised to provide an answer on the permit delay tomorrow.
Commuters, who were forced to walk to work, shops and hospitals on the R102, blamed the department for failing to resolve the problem.
"I agree with the taxi owners. We all suffer when Shanela stops vehicles. Now we have to walk long distances due to the incompetent of government officials. I had to walk to hospital to collect my medication and it's over 20km," said commuter Thandeka Majola.
Provincial transport spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said the department held a meeting with taxi operators on Sunday in an attempt to resolve the issues relating to permits in the area.