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VIOLENCE and intimidation as a means of highlighting grievances is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele said yesterday.
Ndebele was reacting to a Sowetan story yesterday about rival taxi associations being at each others' throats over routes and operating facilities.
Taxi operators warned on Monday that total chaos could erupt at the Wanderers Street Park City Taxi Rank over routes between Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal.
Gauteng MEC for community safety Khabisi Mosunkutu also issued a stern warning to the long-distance taxi rivals.
He has instructed law enforcement agencies to hunt down those responsible for harassment at the taxi rank and ensure they are brought to book.
"Routes into and out of Gauteng will get the required security. Taxis found to be operating illegally on routes will be impounded immediately," Mosunkutu said.
He expressed shock at the developments and said he was concerned at the removal of a certain associations from the rank and the alleged appropriation of routes by associations not entitled to operate on them.
He reassured members of the public, commuters and taxi operators that the province's roads would be safe, both during tand after the Easter period.
Ndebele said in a statement: "While government remains committed to addressing the concerns of the taxi industry, violence and intimidation as a means of highlighting grievances is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, especially at a time when government is engaged in constructive discussions with industry leaders."
He said the department remained committed to working with the Gauteng government and the taxi industry to resolve feuds among rival associations at the Wanderers Street Park City Taxi Rank and on routes betwen Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal.
"While we are seeking lasting solutions within the taxi industry, the right of citizens to have access to fast, reliable and safe public transport will remain paramount.
"As government, our doors have always been and will continue to remain open regarding any issue. However, these engagements should never affect the travel arrangements of commuters, who want to go about their normal business of life," Ndebele said.