Stand-off leaves commuters stranded
Commuters who wanted to travel from Thulamahashe in Mpumalanga to Gauteng were stranded for the third day yesterday owing to tension between two taxi associations.
Members of the Mkhuhlu Thulamahashe Taxi Association (MTTA) told Sowetan that members of the Bushbuckridge Taxi Association (BTA) had been threatening to attack them since Monday.
It is alleged that BTA members travelled for almost 30km from their rank in Bushbuckridge to the Thulamahashe taxi rank to warn MTTA members that they should stop transporting people straight to Gauteng.
They allegedly told them to transport people to Bushbuckridge so taxis under the BTA could take them further.
Commuters said it was frustrating for them because they were caught in the middle and could not travel to Gauteng straight from Thulamahashe.
"We were told that if we really wanted to go to Gauteng we should travel from Thulamahashe to Bushbuckridge, where other taxis would take us further to Gauteng," said Nyiko Ngobeni, one of the affected commuters.
"This is worrying because we are now forced to pay twice, which is not fair to us as commuters."
Members of MTTA, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they feared for their lives because of the tension.
"The problem with these guys from Bushbuckridge is that they are naturally rough and greedy," said one of the MTTA members.
"They even took a firearm from one of our members and we had to call in the police to save the situation."
When Sowetan arrived at the Thulamahashe taxi rank taxis that were supposed to take people to Gauteng were standing empty while the drivers held a meeting.
Mhala police acting spokesman Constable Ralph Mhangani told Sowetan that a group of taxi owners stormed the police station on Monday, complaining about routes.
"We have scheduled a meeting in which we will try to resolve the matter before it gets out of hand," Mhangani said.