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Ministers appeal for calm amid Uber, metered taxi violence

Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula met with taxi operators on Wednesday to discuss the increasing violent attacks in the province.

FILE: An Uber operator's vehicle following an attack in Pretoria on 21 June. Picture: Facebook.com

JOHANNESBURG – Both the Transport and Police Ministers have appealed for calm from rival taxi operators Uber and meter taxi drivers as the government works to finalise a bill that will legalise e-hailing services.

Joe Maswanganyi and Fikile Mbalula met with taxi operators on Wednesday to discuss the increasingly violent attacks in the province.

The ministers say that the government is putting final touches on the National Land Transport Act Amendment Bill, which is currently before Parliament.

The new bill will include e-hailing public transport services.

Violent clashes between the warring groups have escalated in the last month, with confrontations near the airport and Gautrain stations.

A driver whose car was firebombed in Sunnyside two weeks ago died on Monday as a result of the injuries he sustained.

Minister Mbalula says police have conducted a threat analysis of the situation between Uber and metered taxis and now know what needs to be done.

“The metered taxi drivers need to understand that they’ve got no right to take the law into their hands and do what they are doing. We’re intervening heavily.”

He added: “We understand the challenges that metered taxi drivers are going through and the issues they’re dealing with, that’s why we want to understand from the Department of Transport what exactly they’re dealing with. Largely at the centre of this violence is competition.”

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi condemned the violence, saying he too will soon meet with the metered taxi association and Uber to try to resolve the conflict.

Additional reporting by Barry Bateman.