JOHANNESBURG, June 6 – Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Ismail Vadi, on Tuesday pleaded for peace between two rival taxi associations in Soweto, saying that violence would not resolve their differences.
This comes after police arrested three suspects for being in possession of illegal firearms after a shootout broke out on Tuesday morning in Dube, allegedly between the Nancefield-Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe) and the Witwatersrand African Taxi Association (Wata).
The ongoing taxi conflict between Nanduwe and Wata has been simmering for several months, at times resulting in the loss of lives and interruption of commuter services.
Nanduwe taxi operators have been accusing Wata of defying a court judgement ordering them to withdraw their taxis from the Dube route and also prohibiting them from picking up passengers in the area. They have also been fighting over early morning pick-up points in Mofolo, Orlando West and Central Western Jabavu.
In the Gauteng Provincial Legislature on Tuesday, Vadi said the ongoing taxi violence was a matter of public importance.
He said the dispute was formally heard by the Provincial Regulatory Entity (PRE) which ruled that Wata had irregularly encroached on the routes registered in the name of Nanduwe.
“The Department of Roads and Transport appeals to the members of both taxi associations to abide by the ruling. If any party is unhappy or aggrieved with the ruling, it must follow due process allowed for in law and lodge an appeal with the National Regulatory Entity,” Vadi said.
“Acts of violence and intimidation, blockading of roads and disruption of normal taxi services will never resolve the matter and will not result in a different ruling by the provincial regulatory entity.”
Vadi complimented the law enforcement agencies for the swift arrests of the suspects and for the close monitoring of the activities of selected taxi operators intending to disrupt transport services in communities.
“We call on the provincial and municipal law enforcement agencies to act decisively against acts of lawlessness, violence and intimidation by selected taxi operators in Soweto and to ensure that there is safe passage for commuters travelling on public transport routes,” Vadi said.
In December last year, the South Gauteng High Court ruled in favour of Nanduwe following Wata’s application to have its rivals removed from the operation.
Another ruling in March this year came after Nanduwe applied for an interdict, accusing Wata of ignoring the previous order.
In that application, the court ruled that Wata should stop intimidating, assaulting, threatening and blocking Nanduwe from operating, but said that the order was not to determine the rightful operator of the route.
– African News Agency (ANA)