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Mayor urges Mameoldi taxis to avoid violence

Taxi drivers are demanding to know why they were overlooked for a chance to take over bus routes.

FILE: Tshwane Executive Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

MAMELODI - The Gauteng government has urged taxi drivers in Mamelodi to avoid violence in order for negotiations over bus routes to resume.

This week officials have been working to quell tensions related to public transport disputes in the Pretoria east township.

Following the implementation of new bus operator Autopax, taxi drivers have attempted to block buses from operating, pelting many of them with rocks.

Taxi operators are demanding to know why they were overlooked for a chance to take over bus routes no longer serviced by Putco.

Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa has warned taxi drivers that government will be less likely to negotiate with them if they continue with violence.

"The message that needs to be conveyed is that they are weakening their case through this kind of conduct."

Representatives from Mamelodi taxi associations claimed they were promised a stake in bus routes once bus operator Putco left Mamelodi.

Ramokgopa said taxi operators will be integrated into the city's plans to roll out its BRT system called 'A re Yeng', in the township.

However the Mayor has called on taxi drivers to allow government's three month contract with Autopax to take effect, as introducing the BRT system will take time.

MAKHURA ISSUES STERN WARNING

Gauteng Premier David Makhura has warned taxi operators that they will not be allowed to intimidate government or commuters in Mamelodi.

Makhura was addressing locals in the Pretoria east township who have been affected by recent violence over bus routes.

Following the shooting of five people at the height of transport related violence this week, locals are requesting that military reinforcements be brought in.

Makhura said government will not change its plans because of intimidation by taxi operators.

"We want to work with everybody but no one is going to intimidate us, intimidate the community, even if they have guns. We're going to stop them from intimidating our community."

Police have urged Mamelodi residents to work closely with them as they attempt to restore calm in the area.

The police's Lungelo Dlamini said, "We urge members of the community not to panic but to report any suspicious circumstances."

In addition to escorting buses targeted by taxi drivers officials also say they will monitor general crime in the area.