Anger and frustration boiled over as commuters were caught up in a massive taxi strike that brought parts of Johannesburg – the economic hub of the country – to a halt on Thursday.
Taxi drivers blocked key transport routes‚ causing widespread disruption across the city. The blockade prevented bus drivers getting to work‚ affecting commuters using the Gautrain.
“Unfortunately‚ due to major roads being blocked‚ employees are unable to get to the various stations this morning. As a result‚ there is no bus service & a train every 20 minutes on both the N-S & E-W lines. We will keep you updated as the situation evolves throughout the day‚” said an early morning Gautrain alert.
The South African Taxi Council (Santaco) has embarked on a strike in a protest against the monthly cost of their Toyota Quantum vehicles.
Santaco Gauteng chairperson Ralph Jones said yesterday that the taxi industry would march to the South African Taxi Finance offices in Midrand.
“This is to hand over a memorandum of grievances to the directors of the company. Some members of the taxi industry have been hard hit by the high interest rate of 28% and blacklisting due to payment of R15‚000 per month over 72 months.
“We can’t take it anymore‚” Jones said.
He advised commuters to seek alternative transport.
Large parts of the city and major transport routes were affected‚ including the N1 highway at the Allandale off-ramp in Midrand‚ the N12 and Soshanguve Highway.
One commuter warned people‚ in a call to radio 702‚ that gunshots had been fired as taxis congregated near the Allandale Road off-ramp.
Ivory Park residents said they were stranded and unable to get to work.
“At 3am on Thursday‚ the N1 north and south was blocked by taxis. The traffic is heavy on N1‚ N12 and N3 on the south of Johannesburg coming from the Vaal area. Also‚ traffic from Pretoria to Johannesburg is affected as hundreds of taxis are joining in and driving slowly‚” Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Wayne Minnaar told TimesLIVE.
“At the moment the police can’t confirm any violence or harm to both the drivers and motorists.”
#TaxiStrike was trending on twitter as commuters vented about the chaos caused by the blockade.
@QMathosa said that residents were stuck in Midrand.
— Queen Mathosa-Nkosi (@QMathosa) June 15, 2017
There was frustration in the tweet posted by @mynamejd who was sitting in gridlock for an hour.
— JD Breytenbach (@mynamejd) June 15, 2017
@_Mondly took to social media to shed more light on why drivers were striking.
— Mondly Shezi (@_Mondly) June 15, 2017
ITRAFFIC (GP) tweeted: “Protesting N1 Northbound before Golden Highway I/C. All lanes closed. Slow moving traffic.”
101648: Protesting N1 Northbound before Golden Highway I/C. All lanes closed. Slow moving traffic pic.twitter.com/cZoVxZvRMv
— ITRAFFIC (GP) (@itrafficgp) June 15, 2017
This is a developing story.