Taxi commuters stranded once again

Thousands of drivers belonging to the United Taxi Front declared a one-day strike this morning.

Hundreds of taxi operators making their way to office of MEC in Johannesburg CBD on 17 November 2014. Picture: Aurelie Kalenga/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Gauteng Roads and Transport Department on Monday said it won't alter its permit rules just to accommodate some members of the taxi industry.

Thousands of drivers belonging to the United Taxi Front (UTF) declared a one-day strike this morning calling for permits to be reinstated among other demands.

Protesters caused chaos on the N12 and M1 highways this morning before delivering a memorandum of grievances to Gauteng Transport MEC Ismail Vadi's office.

But the department says operators are aware of the rules and procedures that relate to the issuing of permits.

Department spokesperson Octavia Mamabolo said, "Every new vehicle requires a new permit, you can't take your car licence and transfer it into a new licence."

Undeterred by the rain, thousands of drivers from across Gauteng took to the streets of the Johannesburg CBD earlier.

Carrying sticks and united in song, they shouted "away with JMPD harassment".

Commuters already hit by the strike this morning will now face another struggle to get home as drivers belonging to the UTF remain off the roads for the rest of the day.

DEPARTMENT CONDEMNS STRIKE

The department described Monday's taxi strike as unnecessary.

It says it has been in talks with several associations on the issue of operational permits.

Mamabolo says there was no point in blocking the N12 and M1 highways.

"Last week, we had a two-day workshop with most of the associations where the issues they had were raised and dealt with."

Taxi owner Simon Khumalo says they will only return to work tomorrow.

"After the march, we all agreed to go back to work tomorrow."

DEMAND MANAGEABLE

Other transport providers say they are experiencing heavy commuter traffic.

The Gautrain's Errol Braithwaite says the rail provider is confident it has the capacity to handle the demand.

Rea Vaya officials say they are also keeping a close eye on the situation.

The City of Johannesburg's Benny Magoga has apologised in advance to commuters for any delays.