Taxi drivers angry at an increase in traffic fines have vowed to continue their protest if the authorities do not reduce fines.
Seven Golden Arrow buses were set alight in Nyanga and Philippi East Areas on Monday morning, Golden Arrow spokesperson, Bronwen Dyke confirmed. “Four buses were also very badly vandalised and 11 drivers assaulted by the assailants seeking to prevent buses from operating.”
Later that day a delivery truck was stoned and set alight in Mfuleni. Police spokesperson Frederick Van Wyk confirmed today that eight people had been arrested in connection with the Mfuleni incident.
Fifteen-year-old Vuyiswa Maneli was visiting an FNB ATM next to the taxi rank in Mfuleni with her ten-year-old brother when she came across a burning truck and taxi drivers throwing stones at police officers. The police were retaliating by firing rubber bullets. “We hid in the ATM, and when one of the taxi drivers ran towards us, the police shot at us. The rubber bullet just missed my brother’s leg,” explains Maneli.
A taxi driver who did not want his identity revealed said the main reason for Monday’s strike was the drastic increase in fines issued to taxi drivers. He would not say whether or not he had taken part in the protest yesterday.
Drivers who fail to renew their professional driving permits now face a fine of R3,000 instead of R500 and the fine for overloading a tax has gone up from R200 to R500. Failure to show a driver’s licence also carries a fine of R500.
The taxi driver said the strike had been organised by taxi drivers and had nothing to do with the owners. “At the end of the day we are the ones who are fined and we are the ones who have to pay from our own pocket.”
“We don’t need permission from the owners when we want to strike,” confirmed another taxi driver who wishes to remain anonymous. “We were promised that we would get a response on our grievances by today and if nothing comes then we will strike again.”
“This is our only way to get attention from government, by burning government property.”
In a joint statement issued on Tuesday after a meeting, CATA, CODETA, SANCO, Golden Arrow Bus Services, taxi drivers, the South African Police Services (SAPS), and Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille condemned the violent strikes and promised to establish a new forum to discuss the grievances of taxi associations.
Source : GroundUp