Taxi strikes in the Cape continue


The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) announced on Sunday evening that the strikes will resume on Monday and will continue until Wednesday. However, the council appealed to all taxi operators not to interfere with other public transport.

This follows after Santaco’s leadership was unable to reach an agreement with the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town by Sunday evening after numerous discussions over the past weekend. The talks were suspended.

According to a joint statement by the Western Cape government and the city, there is great disappointment over the statement that Santaco issued over the weekend, which contains provisions and amendments that were not tabled or agreed upon during the extensive discussions.

“Together with the city, we presented a proposal on Friday to ease the effects of impoundment on taxi operators, while we resolve the complex challenges regarding operating licenses and other issues. Unfortunately, Santaco’s additional demands are not legally enforceable and will require longer-term engagements with the national government and other actors. At this stage we have very few options left if Santaco does not return to the table and resume the joint work of our minibus taxi task force,” said Ricardo Mackenzie, Minister for Urban Mobility in the Western Cape.

“The terms of the offer have been very clearly communicated, verbally and in writing, and will be dependent on an agreement to restore taxi services and peace.”

Among the demands reflected in Santaco’s statement are allowances for taxis to have priority in yellow and red lanes during peak hours, allowances for traffic obstruction, and a suspension of conditions relating to operating licences.

“It should be noted that there is no mechanism in the law that allows a suspension of the conditions of operating licenses, nor does the city have the authority to make amendments to the laws contained in the national Gond Transport Act,” said Rob Quintas, mayoral committee member for urban mobility.

“This departure, together with the breach of the agreed embargo on the content of the negotiations until after the parties reconvened on Sunday, raises serious concerns about the sincerity and commitment of Santaco to reach a resolution in good faith. They also undermine the trust and cooperative spirit that was central to our negotiations.”

According to the provincial government and the city, the accompanying violence, intimidation and destruction displayed by the strikers has terrorized communities and put enormous pressure on essential services and law enforcement.

“People could not get to their families or to work, school, shops, clinics and other critical sites. This state of affairs is unacceptable and the consequences are now serious. Many government services, including health and social development, have to close facilities and are unable to provide much-needed services to communities,” the statement said.

“The city’s other transport operators, Golden Arrow Bus Services and MyCiTi, continued to run most of their scheduled services under incredibly erratic conditions. They added fleet capacity where possible to get people home. Golden Arrow is now unable to operate in Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Philippi East, Langa and Mfuleni due to extreme vandalism of buses and threats to the safety of drivers and passengers.

“We have tried to engage in a spirit of genuine good faith to address the concerns of the industry in a practical and constructive manner. The proposed compromise measures sought to strike a balance between enforcing traffic regulations and ensuring the smooth operation of the public transport system, which is essential to the mobility and livelihood of many residents.”

According to Quintas, the City of Cape Town remains committed to finding a mutually acceptable solution that serves the interests of residents, the minibus taxi industry and the overall well-being of the city.

“We call on Santaco’s leadership to uphold the principles of transparency, integrity and respectful engagement as we collectively strive to end the current crisis,” he says.

“It is further disappointing that the Western Cape e-taxi service association (WCEA) has since joined the minibus taxi strikes and is demanding an unconditional moratorium on all further strikes. This is an additional blow to commuters who would use e-taxi services in the absence of minibus taxis.”

Mackenzie confirmed Sunday that the Golden Arrow and MyCiTi services will be running on Monday, with the help of city law enforcement officials.

The strike has rocked the city since Thursday and has had a devastating effect on the whole of Cape Town and the province. Several services were disrupted due to the strike. Many transport services and motorists have also come under violent attacks.

Read the previous reports about the strikes here.