Lectures came to a halt at NMMU’s Missionvale Campus yesterday after taxi drivers from the Northern Areas Taxi Operators’ Association (Natoa) blocked all the gates, saying a transport company was poaching their route.
The association members have accused Blunden Coach Tours, which transports students from Summerstrand to and from the campus, of taking their business away.
Students walked around the campus idly while lecturers stood next to their cars. Police were also monitoring the situation.
“Lectures can’t happen today because it is not safe for us to leave our cars out in the street,” a member of a group of lecturers, who declined to be named, said.
“We have been standing out here for about two hours.”
NMMU management later met the association and it was agreed to open up the entrances while discussions on the issue will continue at a follow-up meeting.
A taxi driver, who declined to be named, said: “This is our route and we cannot allow Blunden to transport students to and from Summerstrand.”
He said taxi drivers had tried to talk to Blunden Coach Tours about the issue, without success.
“We want to be the ones transporting these students,” he said.
A number of students who tried to board a bus from Summerstrand which had arrived to drop other students off, were told by taxi drivers to get off the bus.
Kamo Mmitsi, 21, said they were confused by what was happening.
“Some of us don’t have taxi fares and we are happy with Blunden.
“Taxis are not trustworthy. Students have been robbed and raped in these taxis,” he claimed. “Our safety should come first.”
NMMU spokeswoman Zandile Mbabela said: “A taxi association disrupted the university’s student shuttle service and blockaded the entrance to NMMU’s Missionvale Campus.
“The university took immediate action to engage the association on the reasons.”
She said an agreement was reached to unblock the entrances while engagements continued.
The university requested that the association formally table its requests for discussion at a follow-up meeting tomorrow.
A Blunden Coach Tours employee declined to comment, calling the taxi driver action an illegal strike. Natoa chairman Christian King could not be reached.