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' There will be chaos at rank and on road'

By Sibongile Mashaba mashabas@sowetan.co.za | Mar 31, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

TAXI operators have warned that total chaos could erupt at the Wanderers Street Park City Taxi Rank and on the Johannesburg-KwaZulu-Natal routes if the minister of transport does not intervene to settle feuds among rival associations.

Johannesburg KwaNgwanase Taxi Association member Themba Vumase said yesterday: "We do not want things to get out of hand. If we were to do what they were doing, the country's image would be in disarray. There would be total chaos in the country."

This follows incidents last weekend and on Monday. Members of a rival taxi association stopped operations of two other associations by assaulting owners and drivers and pulling passengers out of their taxis at the Wanderers rank.

The members of the other associations have laid charges and have called on Minister of Transport Sbu Ndebele to intervene.

The Department of Community Safety yesterday confirmed the attacks and moved in to confiscate 50 taxis that did not have operating licences and which were not supposed to be on the designated roads and ranks.

Now fear is mounting that hundreds of commuters heading for KwaZulu-Natal for the Easter holidays could be left stranded.

Operators affiliated to the Johannesburg KwaNgwanase Taxi Association told Sowetan yesterday that they were dragged out of their taxis. Passengers were forced to get off and board taxis belonging to a certain association.

Johannesburg KwaNgwanase Taxi Association chairperson Thulani Msane said: "These people are breaking the law and they should be dealt with. They want to take us out of business. If we cannot work together then Ndebele must shut down the rank. Our taxi operators and passengers have been violated."

Sizwe Taxi Association chairperson Velanto Thwala said: "The problem is the Johannesburg to Mkhuze route. It is an objection route and no one is supposed to use it but certain associations do.

"The register won't listen and our members decided to forcibly load passengers and a fight ensued."

Community Safety spokesperson Sizwe Matshikiza said: "The associations operate from Gauteng to parts of KwaZulu-Natal. Sizwe Taxi Association operates in facilities and routes not allocated to it. Commuters are harassed and money is taken from taxi drivers."

Matshikiza encouraged victims to open criminal cases with the police.

Johannesburg Central police spokesperson Inspector Jerbes de Bryan said the station's system was off-line and he could not confirm whether cases of assault were opened or not.

Acting register Peter Dlamini did not respond to Sowetan's enquiry about the rank and routes in question.


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