Fare dispute keeps concerned commuters away from work

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Commuters in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands were stranded yesterday.

Taxi operators decided not to transport commuters from Shane in deep rural Matimatolo near Greytown because of a dispute over increased fares.

Matters came to a head on Monday when disgruntled residents protested because operators had raised the fare by R3.

Residents said fares were raised from R12 to R15 without consulting them.

They said that they only knew about the increase when they saw the notices in the taxis.

Thembeni Ndlovu said yesterday that commuters held a peaceful protest.

"But the peaceful protest almost turned violent when a driver drew a firearm.

"Had the local induna not been present, things might have turned ugly," Ndlovu said.

She said a meeting was held after the protest, but it failed to yield any results. Another meeting will take place on Sunday.

Commuters were upset because there were no taxis yesterday.

Ndlovu said: "Most people could not go to work because there was not a single taxi.

"We are baffled because at Sunday's meeting operators said they would not increase the fares," she said.

"Instead they withdrew their taxis and left us in limbo.

"We are in a dilemma. We don't know what's going to happen," she said.

Senzo Vilakazi, a member of the steering committee, said yesterday the situation was tense.

"Residents tabled 23 complaints. Topping the list was the sudden fare increase, speeding, loud music and taxis not using access roads," Vilakazi said.

He said residents were willing to pay R13, but taxi operators disagreed.

"They said they will deal with the other complaints, but are not prepared to decrease the fares. Today we will have a report back on yesterday's meeting with taxi operators.

" We have scheduled another meeting, but I have a feeling that something bad is going to happen," Vilakazi said.

Attempts to get comment from taxi operators were fruitless because their phones were switched off all day yesterday.