Ishmael Vadi engages Soweto residents

Gauteng MEC for roads and transport Ishmael Vadi addressing the Soweto communities affected by the closure of six taxi ranks.
Gauteng MEC for roads and transport Ishmael Vadi addressing the Soweto communities affected by the closure of six taxi ranks.
Image: Ziphozonke Lushaba

Taxi commuters in Soweto have demanded that rival taxi associations must resolve their issues in order for the routes and ranks to be reopened.

Residents made the demand during a community meeting in Orlando yesterday, where they met with Gauteng roads and transport MEC Ishmael Vadi as a result of the closure of six taxi ranks.

Vadi shut down these ranks and taxi routes being used by the Witwatersrand African Taxi Owners' Association (Wata) and the Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe) due to ongoing violence between these taxi associations.

An Orlando West resident said it was unfair for commuters to suffer because of the two associations' failure to resolve their differences.

Phumla Bida, 34, said she has been forced to walk long distances in the scorching heat since the barring of the two taxi associations.

"I've had to walk about 4km to a point where I can get a taxi and another 4km to return home. I had to drink countless glasses of cold water because of the heat," said Bida.

She suggested that Vadi should rather allow the associations to merge and work together.

Nonhlanhla Dlamini saidVadi should cancel their licences and invite other associations to take over the routes.

Vadi said Wata and Nanduwe have already signed an agreement committing to end the violence.

He said their agreement was currently before him, but he was reluctant to commit to a decision without engaging the community and whether it was convincing enough to reopen the affected taxi ranks.

"The two associations came to an agreement and have signed an agreement saying they would work peacefully and that ranks would be gun-free zones," said Vadi.

He said the associations submitted a document that specified how they would work peacefully with the inclusion of monitoring teams at local and provincial level to curb the outbreak of violence.

"We told the associations that their agreement was fine, but do the drivers understand it? They agreed that they would support the agreement and they want the suspension lifted. We said we would consult the community and find out how they feel and if they feel safe about lifting the suspension."

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