Soweto taxi routes close after late talks reach cul-de-sac

Gauteng transport MEC Ismail Vadi.
Gauteng transport MEC Ismail Vadi.

An 11th-hour meeting between two Soweto taxi associations and the Gauteng department of transport to avert the closure of ranks and routes today ended with no resolution last night.

Operations of the Witwatersrand African Taxi Owners' Association (Wata) and the Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe) are set to be shut down from today.

This after transport MEC Ismail Vadi took the drastic decision following incidents of violence between the warring associations over routes.

Vadi's office told Sowetan late yesterday that there were no changes to the closure of Wata and Nanduwe ranks and routes. "For now the routes and the ranks remain closed," said department spokesperson Melitah Madiba.

But Wata spokesperson Mandlenkosi Maphalala said the parties signed an agreement compelling them to work together and ensure that there is no violence on their routes.

The Gauteng department of transport said five murders, five cases of damage to property and one of public violence had been opened since the start of the year due to ongoing violence.

The decision to shut taxi ranks and routes will likely leave thousands of commuters in Soweto without transport for the next three months.

Anyone contravening the published decision could go to jail for six months or be fined R25,000.

Earlier this week, Wata told Sowetan the two associations had made an effort to end the violence. It said the closure of its operation for months would have a serious impact on its members who earn a living from taxis - and commuters.

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