Taxi bosses have no faith in government's ability to curb taxi wars

Police watch over taxi users as they arrive for shopping at the Mall of Africa in Midrand.
Police watch over taxi users as they arrive for shopping at the Mall of Africa in Midrand.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Following the recent taxi violence which has claimed a number of lives, the department of roads and transport has resolved to find an amicable solution with the industry bosses.

However, taxi bosses have accused the department of failing to implement resolutions which were taken in 2016 at the Minibus Industry Taxi Summit in Irene, Pretoria, which was hosted by the provincial government.

A taxi owner, who was part of an urgent meeting between the department of roads and transport, portfolio committee of the department in the legislature as well as the National Taxi Association (NTA), said he had no hope that the department can curb the ongoing taxi wars.

"The meeting was about the conflicts in the industry which are caused by government not fulfilling the promises. We had a conference from which about sixteen resolutions were taken, but until this day, government has not implemented them," said the taxi boss, who asked not to be named in fear of intimidation.

The two-day summit held in 2016 was aimed at highlighting and finding solutions to issues that had plagued the industry, while also fostering partnerships between the taxi industry and the government.

"There's nothing that government can do because they are always promising to curb the violence and do things differently but at the end of the day, all these things they promise don't come into effect," the taxi boss told Sowetan.

The taxi boss, who owns more than ten minibus taxis, said if the government took the violence seriously, the amount of lives lost due to ongoing wars between associations would have been exceptionally low.

His remarks follow a behind-closed-doors meeting between HOD Ronald Swartz, the chairperson of the department's portfolio committee Mgcina Mfika and representatives from the NTA, at the provincial legislature on Wednesday night.The South African National Taxi Association Council was a no-show despite being invited to the meeting.

"The committee received and welcomed presentations from the leadership of the taxi industry and the Gauteng department of roads and transport on what they perceive to be the major contributors in fuelling violence in the industry, and what could be done to end the violence," said Mfika.

In statement, Mfika downplayed the grievances of the taxi industry bosses and said they had taken "ownership of the ongoing violence" in the industry.

"Both the department and representatives of the taxi industry made a commitment to a safe, peaceful, reliable, efficient and accessible transport system and all agreed in condemning violence and the recent killings," said Mfika.

"As a way forward, all parties agreed to hold an urgent meeting with the leadership of the provincial government, all taxi associations in Gauteng as well as all affected stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies," he added.

Journalists were barred from being part of the meeting.

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