Taxi drivers block N2 at Plettenberg Bay over Covid-19 relief funds

A meeting between taxi drivers, associations, the municipality and provincial departments of transport and health expected on Friday

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Taxi drivers congregate near the N2 before it was reopened after they met with Bitou Municipality Mayor Sandiso Gcabayi. The drivers had shut down part of N2 in Plettenberg Bay this week over issues with relief funds and blue dot taxis. Photo: Siphokazi Mnyobe

Dozens of taxi drivers in Plettenberg Bay blocked part of the N2, demanding answers about Covid-19 stimulus relief funds.

Taxi services have been at a standstill in the town since Tuesday when the drivers started protesting. The road was open again by Wednesday afternoon.

The drivers met with local taxi associations as well as Bitou Municipality Mayor Sandiso Gcabayi in a bid to ease tensions.

The drivers asked Gcabayi to intervene and arrange a meeting on Friday with provincial MECs for Transport and Health as well as the Western Cape Chairperson of the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) to discuss their grievances. It was agreed that six representatives would attend the meeting.

Taxi driver Size Koti said many drivers were still waiting for their relief fund payments. He explained that they also wanted Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo to resolve an impasse among Blue Dot taxi drivers in the town.

The provincial project is aimed at addressing violence in the taxi industry and to offer commuters an improved service by incentivising improved taxi driving behaviour while reducing the risk of “illegal operations”.

Koti said during Mbombo’s visit and vaccination promotion on 3 August, Mbombo instructed blue dot taxis from Knysna to transport community members from Qolweni to be vaccinated. “We need the minister to come and account for her decisions and tell us why she did not take the blue dot taxis from Plettenberg Bay.

“We were forced to have only seven passengers and when we picked up an old lady on the side of the road, we were fined for it. We need Bitou Municipality to cancel those tickets,” said Koti.

When GroundUp contacted Gcabayi on Wednesday afternoon, he said he was still waiting for feedback from officials who met with the drivers today.

Questions were also sent to the offices of the MECs. We did not receive any responses at the time of publication.

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TOPICS:  Covid-19 Transport

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