DURBAN TAXI COMMUTERS LEFT STRANDED
By: Khanyisani Dlomo
Durban commuters were left stranded on Wednesday as members of the KwaZulu-Natal Transport Alliance (KZNTA) and taxi drivers association “Qina Mshayeli” held a mass meeting in Curries Fountain.
Drivers and assistants – carrying sticks, bricks and weapons – went on a rampage in the CBD, pulling out passengers from other taxis and intimidating their drivers.
This comes after eThekwini Municipality Mayor James Nxumalo failed to respond to a memorandum of their grievances handed over to the municipality on 11 June. Chaos broke out last month when taxi operators marched through the city centre, accusing Metro Police of harassment and demanded municipal authorities to intervene.
Frightened pedestrians could be seen running for cover, while taxi drivers who chose to work were forced to use alternative routes.
A commuter, Nonhle Nyide said, “I have been standing here for more than three hours. I don’t know how to get home. But what can I do? I’ll have to use buses. If it continues, it will have a negative impact on us as taxi commuters.”
South African Taxi Workers Organization’s Vusumuzi Ndlovu said they will fight until their demands are met.
“No taxi will be loading today. No one is going home. Mayor Nxumalo and MEC Mchunu must come here to address us,” Ndlovu said.
“We still have 2007 and 2008 warrants of arrest for some of our members. These should have been dropped long ago…we don’t want tickets. This is just the beginning of the strike.”
KZNTA spokesperson Bafana Mhlongo said the meeting- which included taxi owners, drivers and driver assistants – was a follow up to the previous march where the Alliance called for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu to resign. The Alliance accused Mchunu of failing to streamline the issuing of taxi operating licences.
“There is no strike. We called the meeting because Mayor Nxumalo and Willies Mchunu have not responded to our memorandum. This meeting is about updating taxi operators and to discuss the way forward,” Mhlongo told JournalismIziko.
“We are fighting against unreasonable harassment of taxi drivers. It must end. We did not come with a solution because some of our members were not present. The leadership will hold a meeting on Thursday morning,” added Mhlongo.