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Mamelodi Autopax operational as taxi drivers back down

Taxi drivers this morning refused to allow Autopax buses to operate in the area.

Commuters were stranded in Mamelodi after taxi drivers didn’t allow Autopax buses to operate in the area. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

PRETORIA - Passengers have started boarding buses inside the Autopax depot in Mamelodi east of Pretoria after taxi drivers prevented the fleet from leaving early this morning.

CEO of Autopax Nathi Khena said they were tipped off about an intention to disrupt this morning's service and reported it to the government.

But he said they did not get enough assistance.

"We called the police to come and assist and at some stage we had only one police van at the depot for about two and a half hours. We did get some intelligence yesterday evening and we informed the department accordingly."

LISTEN: 'Our buses were under threat from taxi drivers'

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) subsidiary has been appointed to service routes affected by Putco's cancellation of eight contracts with government.

A commuter said there was confusion on the ground.

"Yesterday Mr Ismail Vadi said there's going to be buses, but there were no buses in Mamelodi. People came from Tembisa, Vosloorus and I'm going to Pretoria CBD, but I need to catch a taxi instead."

Commuters were stranded in Mamelodi as taxi drivers didn't allow Autopax buses to operate in the area on 1 July 2015. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

Commuters were demanding that taxi drivers allow buses to operate this morning.

"We don't earn enough money to travel with a taxi every month. So the buses are the transport we can afford."

Angry commuters said they didn't want to be caught in the middle of a disagreement between taxi operators and Autopax bus services.

Taxi drivers said while they had no problem with Putco, a privately owned operator, they were no going to allow government to make money from their routes.

#Putco VIDEO: Stranded Mamelodi commuters are demanding that taxi operators allow Autopax busses to operate. DB. pic.twitter.com/rKE5gOHP2k

They have however denied stopping the buses from leaving the depot.

Meanwhile, Khena said there's been an attempt to burn one of its buses.

LISTEN: Putco: Cancelled routes not profitable

TWITTER REACTION

Taxi industry believes it owns black people. No one is allowed to transport them without their permission. #Autopax

#Putco #Autopax I think the department of transport Gauteng has failed commuters, they were told 6 months ago, now a crisis is unfolding

These taxi drivers are greedy and sometimes they don't even drop people closer to where they are going whilst these busses do. #Autopax

We always find a way to mess up something as South Africans though, why are taxis doing this in mamaelodi @Radio702 #Autopax #Putco

Taxi drivers saying they should have been given the opportunity to run the bus system first. #Putco

I see a strike in the future " @ewnreporter: #Putco Taxi drivers are allegedly refusing to allow the new bus operator to function in the area

Mara my people keep losing though. How can you prevent somebody who works for their own money from using transport at their choosing? #Putco