/ 11 September 2007

Taxi violence: ‘Enough is enough’

Taxi violence is disturbing and must be curbed in order to build confidence in the taxi industry, the Gauteng registrar for public transport said on Tuesday.

”We all come to the point of saying enough is enough and let us stop the carnage. Let us all bring back confidence in the taxi industry,” Sam Ledwaba told a media conference in Johannesburg.

He said the provincial department of transport was in partnership with the Greater Johannesburg Regional Taxi Council (GJRTC) and the Gauteng National Taxi Alliance (GNTA) to address taxi violence, which had been prevalent in the last six months.

”The dignity and progress in the industry will only come back when we stop the violence,” he said.

Ledwaba said the Bree Street taxi rank in the Johannesburg CBD had been identified as a flash point for violence and it was therefore under constant surveillance by the police.

Other areas of particular concern included the Metro Mall in Johannesburg, Johannesburg central, Soweto, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane.

Last week two taxi drivers were shot dead and two passengers were injured in two separate incidents at the Bree Street rank and in Honeydew, west of Johannesburg.

”We have noted with concern how these conflicts have resulted in the loss of life of operators and passengers.”

Ledwaba said the department had the statistics relating to the number of deaths in the last six months.

He was not prepared to provide the figures, saying it was a police matter.

Eric Motshwane, the chairperson from the GJRTC, said the government and taxi organisations needed to work together to restore stability in the industry.

”Our objective is to make sure there is total stability in our region,” he said.

Sicelo Mabaso from the GNTA said he was ”perturbed” by the high incidence of taxi violence.

”Enough is just enough … We know that we are being demonised by this situation,” said Mabaso.

Ledwaba said Gauteng provincial minister for community safety Firoz Cachalia and the organisations were ”working on a plan” to curb the violence.

He would not divulge the details of the plan, adding that it was premature to say the police were failing at their jobs.

”We are mindful of the fact that the growth and development of the industry is dependent entirely on it being legalised, formalised and being conflict-free,” he said.

He said the Dobsonville, Roodepoort, Leratong, Johannesburg Taxi Association (Dorljota) was the only organisation licensed to use the Bree Street taxi rank.

Feuds between Dorljota and the Faraday Taxi Association over the taxi rank have resulted in a number of deaths and injuries.

According to the department, 65% of Gauteng commuters rely on taxis for transport.

Ledwaba, the GNTA and the GJRTC were scheduled to meet the Faraday Taxi Organisation, Dorljota and community-based structures in Kibler Park, south of Johannesburg, next Tuesday.

”We will work with those who have the interest of the industry at heart, for it is them who care about this future,” Ledwaba said. — Sapa