Fight for right to choose mode of transport

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Taxi operators and the community of Edendale, Pietermaritzburg, agreed yesterday to hold fire after violent scenes erupted on Wednesday.

Taxi operators allegedly forced commuters off a bus by shooting at them. Commuters fired back, injuring four operators, with Edendale taxi association chairman Themba Maweli being seriously hurt.

The trouble has been brewing for a long time, with taxi operators blocking buses.

Witnesses said taxi operators gathered at 5am, blocked buses, manhandled commuters and then started shooting.

Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said: "Police found about 500 residents had blocked the road to prevent taxis operating. They were unhappy there were no buses to transport them to town."

He said because the crowd was uncontrollable, police were forced to use stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse them.

"But, the police were also pelted with stones and rocks by the incensed crowd," he said.

Provincial transport department spokesman Nonkululeko Mbatha said: "An arrangement has been made that buses be decreased, so that both transport modes are able to work."

KwaZulu-Natal Transport Alliance spokesman Willy Mbhense said: "Commuters have a right to use the transport of their choice. "