Quick fix to e-hailers vs taxis conflict

Three months ban for Uber, Bolt in Soweto malls

Johannesburg members of mayoral committee Kenny Kunene (roads and transport) and Mgcini Tshwaku (public safety).
Johannesburg members of mayoral committee Kenny Kunene (roads and transport) and Mgcini Tshwaku (public safety).
Image: Veli Nhlapo

The e-hailing taxi drivers will not drop off or pick up their passengers inside all shopping malls in Soweto for the next three months.

This was a short-term agreement that they shook hands on with minibus taxi operators to avert violence that has flared up recently at Maponya Mall and Protea shopping centre, which saw several cars belonging to e-hailing being torched allegedly by taxi operators who accused Bolt and Uber drivers of stealing business from them. The drivers clashed in Protea on Tuesday leading to closure of some roads.

Yesterday, the South African E-hailing Association met with Soweto Taxi Services (STS) along with the City of Joburg officials to discuss the violence. 

The e-hailing association said the three-month agreement was better than nothing.

The association’s national spokesperson, Vhatuka Mbelengwa, said the solution, although temporary, could be worked around. 

“Whether the solution is the best now is uncertain, but it is a solution nonetheless. At the end of the day, we must try something to ensure the safety of the community and us,” said Mbelengwa. The agreement would be in place until a permanent solution is found. 

STS chairperson Myekeleni Madlala also welcomed the resolutions. 

This is an agreement and not a final one. We are doing this for the safety of everyone and to ensure that everyone is protected. We have agreed that they will not get into the malls and will only stop at the gates of the malls. A permanent solution will still be discussed at a later stage,” said Madlala.

MMC for public safety, Mgcini Tshwaku, says the main problem that traditional taxi drivers have are e-hailers who have started to enter the space of the taxi ranks at malls. 

“E-hailers are not supposed to wait for their customers inside malls. The two parties have agreed that they are not fighting and so it begs the question of who is setting alight these vehicles, who is the third party,” said Tshwaku. 

Mbelengwa said there must be further commitment to ensure that people put on the ground can identify an e-hailing operator and a taxi operator who are not meant to be there. We must do this so that those undermining the industry and operating illegally can be quickly identified.” 

He added that the talk of a solution is needed as they (e-hailers) are being exploited every day. 

It’s too easy to point fingers at each other, to say that it’s the taxi industry’s fault. We have been advocating for regulations for many years. We cannot continue to talk about burnt vehicles when there have been burning vehicles over the years. We have a social and collective responsibility to unite and not vilify the taxi industry.” 

Kenny Kunene, MMC of department of transport said: “We will meet again on Friday to finalise the last solutions, however, for now we have agreed that all the e-hailing services/cars must do their drop off at the gates of the malls but when they are carrying elderly people or people with disabilities, they can then drop them off inside the mall and leave,” said Kunene. 

Kunene said despite the road being blocked in Protea yesterday, the situation was still under control. 

“From this meeting there will be presence of police officers and e-hailing drivers have been given this mandate, the situation is under control. Whoever does not follow this resolution they risk their cars getting impounded by the police. The most important people are the citizens,” Kunene said. 

Tshwaku said an intelligence unit team had been deployed to be on the ground for the next few days. 

“We have deployed a team because we don’t know what is going to happen after here,” said Tshwaku.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.