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City of Cape Town condemns violence by protesting taxi drivers, calls for Mbalula to step in

City of Cape Town condemns violence by protesting taxi drivers, calls for Mbalula to step in

Cape Town – The City of Cape Town has condemned the violence, intimidation and attacks directed towards public transport services, allegedly by striking taxi operators.

The violent strike has left thousands of commuters stranded and deprived from earning an income.

This comes after two buses, one belonging to Golden Arrow and the other to MyCiti, were set on fire in Khayelitsha, allegedly by striking taxi drivers.

Earlier, Police in Cape Town arrested three men with strong links to the taxi industry with 13 petrol bombs in Delft.

Members of the Western Cape Flying Squad were strategically deployed as the taxi industry embarked on a two-day strike across the province.

The City suspended the N2 Express service in Khayelitsha due to the tumultuous situation, and MyCiTi bus service variations are in effect for Dunoon and the surrounding areas, as well as Hout Bay.

The City’s Mayco member Rob Quintas said they were of the view that the Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula should take the lead in devising a strategy for formalising and modernising the minibus-taxi industry; secondly, that the department should provide the funding for these efforts where they are implemented, be it on local or at provincial level.

“The City has noted the demands from Santaco, representing the minibus-taxi operators in the Western Cape. We fully agree that formalising the industry is key to its long-term sustainability.

“A modernised and efficient minibus-taxi industry is in the interest of operators, those employed by the industry, and more importantly, commuters. As such, I am calling on the national minister of transport to urgently address the call for assistance,” Quintas said.

He also said that over the past decade, the City had developed initiatives towards improving and formalising the minibus-taxi industry, insofar as it was within City jurisdiction and mandate.

“The minibus-taxi operators who were impacted by the roll-out of the first phase of the MyCiTi service are shareholders in three of the four vehicle operating companies contracted to operate the MyCiTi bus service, inclusive of the N2 Express.

“This constituted one of the biggest empowerment drives of the minibus-taxi industry by local government, and also involved capacitation and training,” Quintas added.

The City also implemented a pilot study in the Mitchells Plain area, called the Transport Operating Company (TOC) project, an initiative to formalise minibus-taxi operators through establishing registered companies to provide public transport and other services.

“The City is engaging the National Department of Transport for funding to implement and test the further roll-out of the TOC project to other areas in Cape Town,” he said.

He also revealed that they were eager and willing to be part of a national effort in ensuring the stability and formalisation of the industry. This would be to the benefit of operators, those employed within the industry, and hundreds of thousands of commuters who rely on their services.

Condemning the current situation, Western Cape Minister of Mobility, Daylin Mitchell, said the actions by the taxi industry had a severe impact on people travelling to and from work, schoolchildren who were writing exams and to those who tried to access services such as healthcare.

“We cannot afford this while our economy is only starting to show recovery from two very tough years. These senseless acts are putting jobs at risk and they are putting lives at risk.

“I will use all regulatory and legislative mechanisms to deal with this issue, which includes suspending or even withdrawing operating licences and holding associations accountable for the actions.

“I will not stand by and allow a handful of opportunists to hold the commuters of this province hostage. I have said it before and I maintain that illegal and criminal acts will not be tolerated,” Mitchell said.

Meamwhile, Western Cape Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagen Allen, called on all law enforcement entities, including the SAPS, LEAP and other City of Cape Town agencies, to arrest any person that embarks on criminal activity during today’s protest by taxi operators.

“Every person has the right to protest, but this should be done in a peaceful and law-abiding manner. Law-abiding citizens are being denied the opportunity to get to their important engagements or appointments and this is unacceptable.

“Intimidation and the destruction of property will not be tolerated. Not only should those who are involved in these illegal activities be arrested, but civil claims should be instituted against them,” Allen said.

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