Taxi strike makes Cape Town’s transport misery worse

Torched busses cause Golden Arrow to cancel services to much of the Cape Flats

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Commuters wait at the empty Cape Town taxi station. Photo: Tariro Washinyira

Taxis in Cape Town went on strike on Monday. This follows a dispute over the election process for the leadership of the South African National Taxi Council of South Africa (SANTACO). Members of various taxi associations, united under the Minibus Taxi Industry Task Team (MITTT) are calling for fair elections.

Spokesperson Busuthu Ndungane said they would continue to withhold their services until their frustrations with SANTACO and the national and provincial transport departments are addressed. “We are saying we need to have a pre-election conference in this province that should precede the regional elections,” said Ndungane.

He said the regional election date had been set for 14 August but “without a venue, without any process that will inform us as to how it will be [conducted]”.

He claimed that 70 to 80% of SANTACO regions in the Western Cape were supporting the strike.

Across the city, commuters — already used to a broken transport system — had to endure even worse service than usual on Monday.

In the morning the Cape Town taxi rank was empty. The few commuters who were there wanted to travel to Delft and Khayelitsha but were left stranded.

Commuter Chanelle Adonis complained that she was late for work. “Half an hour ago a bus eventually came to my stop but I couldn’t get in because the driver said, ‘Sorry, no more paper in the printing machine’.”

Golden Arrow bus service spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer said that two busses were set alight on Monday morning in Khayelitsha. GroundUp went to photograph the scene but by the time we arrived the busses had been removed.

The company’s Facebook page said that services had to be suspended in Delft, Nyanga and Khayelitsha. “We are currently operating from the outskirts of these areas.”

Khayelitsha resident Nobesuthu Beya, who usually uses a bus, instead went to catch a train at 8:40am. But she waited close to two hours for one to Cape Town. Then she had to take a train to Salt River. She only arrived to work after 12pm.

Beya had tried to use an Uber which would normally cost about R165 for the trip. But surge pricing sent the price up to R539, which was too much.

“I do not know how I am going to get home after work,” said Beya.

In Vrygrond some residents walked three kioometres to catch trains at Steenberg station, while others simply turned back home.

Noluvuyo Nqweniso from Hout Bay only heard in the morning when she was getting ready to go to work that there were no taxis. Usually she catches a taxi to Wynberg and then another to Ottery. “Today I had no choice but to go back home because there are no buses. Even amaphela [private car taxis offering shared rides] are not working today.”

“Hout Bay is far from places. So without transport there is no way I could get to work,” said Nqweniso.

Commuters from Parow, Elsie’s River, Goodwood and Kensington could not get on Golden Arrows buses as they were already full with Belville passengers.

In Parow there was a service to Maitland and Bishop Lavis, but no service to Cape Town. We asked one of the drivers why he was taking commuters only as far as Maitland, and not to the city. He replied, “I don’t want to die. There is a strike today.”

After 9am a GroundUp reporter managed to get on a Cape Town-bound taxi from Parow. The taxi was overloaded. The conductor squashed seven people into one corner of the taxi and four people stood in a row next to the door. On the front, next to the driver three people pressed against each other. The reporter saw no other taxis en route to the city. On the corner of Voortrekker Road and Vanguard Road she saw stranded commuters waiting for taxis for Langa and Mitchells Plein. The Golden Arrow bus queues along the way were also long.

The driver said, “This is my last trip. I will operate again for few hours during the peak hour starting at 4pm. It’s not safe. “

The strike is expected to continue on Tuesday.

TOPICS:  Transport

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