Commuters left stranded as taxi operators embark on a strike

Commuters in Gauteng were left stranded as taxi drivers took to the streets to protest against the non-payment of the R1.3 billion COVID-19 relief fund for drivers and the refusal for the South African National Taxi Council to be the main leadership body, amongst others. Members affiliated to the National Taxi Association marched to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s office and the Presidency at the Union Buildings to submit memorandums of demands.

However, even though the NTA promised that the march would be a peaceful one and that traffic would not be disrupted, it was chaos all over the country as most main roads were blocked, bus commuters were taken off buses and in one incident, a public bus was hijacked and the female driver captured, however she was later found safe and the bus was not damaged, and in another a biker was beaten up by taxi operators as he tried to pass through the blockage.

The National Taxi Association spokesperson, Theo Malele said  they are concerned about the failure of the government to release the Covid-19 relief fund promised by both the minister and the state president to the association for taxi drivers and taxi operators. Malele said they handed a memorandum of demands to the Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula in August this year and gave him until the 31st of October to respond but he has not yet responded.

A commuter, Wandile Masango tweeted: @WandileMasango2

Physically kicking us off Tshwane bus, when buses are on strike taxis operate as normal no one disrupts them kodwa bona manje

@Tshwanebus2 @MbalulaFikile #Nationaltaxistrike can we please be protected, or should we accept that taxis govern themselves

The strike also affected final exams that had to be written on the day by matric learners and university learners.  The MEC of Education in Gauteng, said matric learners who were affected by the strike could be allowed to write their exams, even if they arrive an hour late, they could write their exams at any school near them and bus operators were told to transport them at no cost. Tshwane University of Technology postponed all the exams that had to be written on the day.

 

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