Stop these taxi thugs in their tracks

As much as the service they offer to the public is important, as we do not have a reliable public transport system, we cannot be held to ransom by these taxi operators, the writer says.
As much as the service they offer to the public is important, as we do not have a reliable public transport system, we cannot be held to ransom by these taxi operators, the writer says.
Image: Gallo Images/Foto24/Lulama Zenzile

The transport department and law enforcement agencies have to rein in taxi operators, they cannot be allowed to be a law unto themselves.

On Tuesday we once again woke up to news of chaos on the roads in the Vaal area. Thousands of commuters were left stranded after a bus company suspended all operations after one of its vehicles was torched by taxi operators.

The bus driver told Sowetan he was on his way to pick up his colleagues around 3am when his bus was surrounded by four minibus taxis and two cars whose occupants threatened him and shot at the bus's tyres. He was told to switch off the vehicle and get out, and he did as he was ordered.

"They told me to leave the bus where it was if I wanted to live. They then shot three times with a gun and the tyres started losing air. There was a lot of them in the taxis. They wanted to immediately torch the bus but one person told them to not do that," the distraught driver said. However, minutes later the bus was on fire.

Taxi operators had been unhappy for weeks after many commuters ditched them for buses when they had hiked fares and people could no longer afford them..

The bus company suspending all its operations, left about 3,500 commuters with no transport to get to and back from work. It pleaded for provincial government's intervention.

Not so long ago, taxi operators went on strike, leaving masses without transport as they were unhappy with the amount allocated to them from the Covid-19 relief fund. When the department did not give in to their demands, they resorted to filling their vehicles to full capacity in defiance of social distancing regulations to curb the pandemic.

As much as the service they offer to the public is important, as we do not have a reliable public transport system, we cannot be held to ransom by these operators. It is about time that their sector is regulated, like all other businesses are.

They cannot be allowed to increase prices whenever they feel like. They can also not be left to run amok, intimidating other operators and forcing commuters to use their transport as if we live in a lawless society. Police officers have to enforce the law whenever taxi operators turn to violence to express their grievances.

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