/ 16 November 2010

Slow start to Pretoria taxi protest

Slow Start To Pretoria Taxi Protest

The planned taxi protest over the implementation of the government’s new traffic demerit system got off to a slow start in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Tshwane metro spokesperson Alta Fourie said that by 9.30am it was reported that only three taxis had converged at the starting point of the proposed march on the Union Buildings.

Police and journalists outnumbered gathering marchers. Police officials, metro police and journalists were seen milling around as ice-cream sellers desperately tried to earn a few rand from protesters.

There were at least 35 police vehicles and several police motorcycles at the gathering point in Marabastad.

It was not immediately clear whether the march would still proceed, or what had become of the expected 20 000 marchers.

Tshwane metro police spokesperson Alta Fourie said on Monday drivers from around Gauteng were expected to take part in the march. Permission for the march organised by the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) had been granted.

Satawu is demanding that the government withdraws the new licensing system, saying that it would cause its members untold hardship and a loss of jobs.

Satawu is demanding that the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto) legislation be repealed.

Demerit points
The system penalises drivers with demerit points for traffic offences.

Once a driver has 12 demerit points, his or her driver’s licence gets suspended for three months. A driver’s licence gets cancelled on the third suspension.

Satawu’s Gauteng chairperson, Ephraim Mphahlele, said on Saturday the union appreciated the fact that the government wanted to implement the system in an attempt to minimise road accidents.

Pretoria’s streets on Tuesday morning were almost devoid of taxis and there were unconfirmed reports of isolated incidents of intimidation.

Meanwhile, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) said on Tuesday its members would not be joining taxi drivers marching to the Union Buildings.

“At the moment, while Santaco equally holds concerns regarding the implementation of the Aarto, it is not a part of the strike … ,” Santaco spokesperson Philip Taaibosch said.

He said that Santaco would engage in a separate process to raise and address the concerns of the taxi industry regarding Aarto.

Taaibosch said in a statement that Santaco was, however, neither negative nor affirmative on the Satawu protest regarding Aarto. — Sapa