Cosatu condemns Cape Town taxi violence

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Monday condemned reports of violence by striking taxi workers in Cape Town.

“The taxi bosses have a right to protest, but they must direct the protest at the government who is the cause of the problem, so taxis must go and block the city centre, not prejudice commuters, who can do nothing to solve their problems,” said Cosatu’s Western Cape provincial secretary, Tony Ehrenreich.

He wanted to know why the provincial government had not put contingency plans in place, such as making extra trains available.

“Cosatu calls on the national government, the City of Cape Town, provincial government and Metrorail to put in place an urgent plan to confront the crisis. They should also include labour, business and the taxi bosses to contribute to finding a solution,” said Ehrenreich.

Taxi protests turned violent in Cape Town on Monday morning, forcing the police to fire rubber bullets at stone-throwing strikers.

Public violence
One Golden Arrow bus was stoned in the Nfuleni area and nine people were arrested for public violence, said police spokesperson Warrant Officer November Filander.

“The police did fire some rubber bullets in Nyanga. There are no reports of any injuries,” he said.

“There was sporadic stone throwing at vehicles.”

He said there were no taxis running on the main routes in Cape Town.

Taxi commuters were left stranded in Cape Town on Monday morning as members of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) started striking to protest against the provincial government.

“There’s a lot of unhappiness among my members in the Western Cape,” said Santaco secretary general Philip Taaibosch.

“It is the only province in South Africa where you find that taxi operators are harassed in such a big way,” he told the South African Press Association by phone.

‘Draconian’ traffic laws
Taaibosch said Santaco members were protesting about two matters—the red tape and “sloppiness” around the issuing of operating licences by the provincial government, and the “draconian” traffic laws.

He said authorities regularly impounded taxis without good reason.

“If he is a taxi operator, they just impound his vehicle,” said Taaibosch.

He said he had requested his colleagues in the Western Cape to try to set up a meeting with provincial transport and public works minister Robin Carlisle to discuss Santaco’s concerns.

The strike will end once “the provincial leadership had decided that their issues had been addressed”, said Taaibosch.—Sapa

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