George taxi violence could lead to shut down of ranks

This came after three days of violent protests by taxi drivers in Thembalethu, George.

FILE: Western Cape Transport MEC Donald Grant. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Transport MEC Donald Grant has published a notice in the government gazette announcing his intention to close certain taxi ranks over ongoing industry violence in George should it continue.

Grant’s spokesperson Siphesihle Dube said the notice identified all the ranks and routes officials may close if violence continued or escalated.

“Minister Grant is not taking the situation lightly. And with this publication, there will still be more engagements with our national counterparts as well as municipalities and other stakeholders as to what will be the best way forward,” Dube said.

The department said the "extraordinary measures" were for the protection of commuters and to secure public transport infrastructure.

The notice was published in terms of section 91 of the National Land Transport Act.

This comes after three days of violent protests by taxi drivers in Thembalethu, George.

Drivers and taxi bosses went on a rampage this week after the Uncedo Taxi Association claimed traffic officials had impounded taxis to make way for the Go George bus service. Traffic officials said the approximately 40 taxis were not roadworthy.

Two George municipal traffic patrol cars were torched, and the private vehicle of a Go George Bus Service employee was petrol bombed.

However, police spokesperson Captain Malcolm Pojie said no disruptions had been reported in the Thembalethu area on Friday.

“We’ve deployed our public order police unit as well as other police in the area to maintain high visibility in order to sustain the situation as it is,” he said.

Earlier this year, Gauteng Transport MEC Ismail Vadi shut down six disputed taxi routes in Soweto after two rival associations failed to reach an agreement to end taxi violence in the area.