Department of Transport officials will meet with the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and Cape Town city officials in a bid to resolve the taxi strike, says Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga.
Speaking on the sidelines of the National Dialogue on Coalition Governments in Cape Town on Friday, Chikunga said the department was expected to convene a meeting with all role players to find a solution to the impasse.
On Wednesday, after the taxi council suspended operations, taxis blocked roads, including major highways, several buses were burned, and motorists were intimidated. The strike follows a standoff with the municipality regarding the impounding of taxis and the processing of operating licence applications.
Chikunga said she had asked MEC for Transport, Ricardo Mackenzie, to attend the meeting as “we believe the Department of Transport should lead and not the police because this is a matter that requires the Department of Transport nationally and provincially, sitting together with the metro.”
“We have invited the national leadership of Santaco, also their provincial and local leadership, so that we hear exactly what the issues are and find solutions to those problems.”
The minister called for taxi operators to reconsider the suspension of services, which has left thousands of commuters without transport.
“We are extremely concerned about what has happened. What we would like Santaco to do is maybe call off the strike while we are trying to find a solution. The people who become victims are not the people that they are unhappy with,” she said.
“Of course, we would want to protect the Netball World Cup. We have got other events that have to take place in Cape Town. [The taxi industry] plays a key role in the transportation of commuters and we would definitely try to persuade them to consider calling off the strike,” she said.
Chikunga condemned the violence that erupted and called on city officials to mete out “equal treatment” to all motorists, including those in the transport industry.
“We are not saying that law enforcement should not enforce the law and we are not saying that the taxi industry should not abide by the law of the road because that actually leads to accidents.
“However, when that law is meted, it should not just target the taxi industry. We are opposed to that. We can’t have a by-law that is just for the taxi industry. If it is wrong to cross any barrier line, it should be wrong for the bus, the taxi and for everybody. It should not just focus on and target the taxi industry,” she said. – SAnews.gov.za