Soweto taxi commuters will be left in limbo as the closure of six ranks and routes operated by two rival taxi associations takes effect on Friday morning.
Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC, Ismail Vadi, announced the decision this week, following continued deadly violence between the Nancefield-Dube West Taxi Association (NANDUWE) – and the Witwatersrand Taxi Association (WATA).
Vadi has advised commuters to make use of alternative public transport such as Metrorail, and buses such as Putco and Rea Vaya.
Commuters have been left in limbo as Vadi says the deadly taxi war between WATA and NANDUWE has forced him to order the closure of the disputed routes and ranks in Soweto.
Taxi drivers are worried that they will not be able to feed their families as the closure is set to last for three months.
One of the drivers is pleading for a speedy resolution,”We are not happy with the closure of routes as WATA members. We will even struggle to buy food. Please make a plan to fix things, we plead with our leaders to consider our situation because we have children, we have to eat, we have to pay rent.”
“We are in trouble. For the next three months I will just be sitting at home because there’s nothing I can do. It’s a big problem. Please solve it.”
Vadi has acknowledged that the decision will inconvenience commuters, but says he cannot allow the rival taxi organisations to continue operating on those routes, while lives are being lost.
Vadi’s spokesperson Melitta Madiba says the MEC has urged Soweto residents, who normally use taxis along the affected routes, to make alternative transport arrangements.
“The department is fully aware that the decision taken will inconvenience commuters, however, the safety of commuters and residents must come first.”
“The MEC has also welcomed efforts made by the National Taxi Alliance to come with a peace agreement between the warring taxi associations; he said he’s willing to consider further constructive representations on the matter.”