Progress has been made in efforts to resolve the taxi violence sparked by a dispute between two rival taxi associations in the Western Cape under the arbitration of the provincial and national transport departments.
In a joint statement on Monday, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and Western Cape head of transport and public works Daylin Mitchell said that the Congress of Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta) and Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) had agreed to aim to end their turf war that has disrupted transport in the Western Cape for weeks.
The violent conflict has left scores of people dead, with 24 killed in July alone.
In terms of the agreement, all legal operating licence holders for routes to and from Mbekweni must commence services as authorised by their operating licences or face the legal consequences.
However, Route B97 between Mbekweni/Paarl and Bellville, which is at the centre of the turf war with both Cata and Codeta claiming it as theirs, remains closed after Mitchell enforced section 91(2) of the National Land Transport Act, for its closure for two months starting from 26 July.
The closure affects two taxi ranks in Mbekweni, local route loading lanes at the Bellville public transport interchange, the long-distance facility at the Bellville public transport interchange, the Paint City rank, as well as an informal rank in Bellville.
Under the latest concessions unveiled by Mbalula on Monday, both associations must instruct their members to return to service in line with the authorities issued with their operating licenses and must do so “in a manner that is safe for the public”.
“When route B97 is opened, only legal operating licence holders will be allowed to operate and will serve the full route from the authorised ranks and terminals,” Mbalula’s joint statement with Mitchell said.
The issuance of new operating licences in all affected municipalities has been halted for now.
“If the affected municipalities indicate the need for additional services on route B97, operating licences will be apportioned in accordance with the arbitration award,” the statement said.
The arbitration award refers to the process relating to the provincial regulatory entity which is responsible for approving and issuing taxi operating licences in the Western Cape.
Further acts of violence will lead to all affected routes operated by the two associations being closed and affected operating licences suspended, the statement warned.