New transport MEC reopens taxi routes in Soweto
Soweto rival taxi associations, whose routes and ranks were closed after violence erupted, will resume operations on Tuesday. This was announced by the newly appointed MEC for transport Jacob Mamabolo at the Hector Pieterson Memorial Site on Tuesday.
Mamabolo announced that the routes on which the Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe) and the Witwatersrand Taxi Association (Wata) operated on will be reopened next week.
The closure followed clashes which left five people dead when violence erupted in January.
“The two associations have agreed to work peacefully with each other and will divide everything fairly. There are 200 taxis that will operate at these ranks and on the routes, 100 from each associations. They have special stickers that will allow them to operate in these areas without conflict,” Mamabolo said.
He said he initiated negotiations on the day he assumed office and was happy that they have been fruitful.
“Both parties approached me and said they would like to initiate negotiations because commuters are suffering."
Both parties appeared to be satisfied with the agreement and used the opportunity to take a swipe at the previous MEC, Ismail Vadi. They accused Vadi of failing to meet with them to resolve the conflict. Nanduwe spokesperson Mlungisi Kunene said they were happy that they would be able to put food on the table and provide a service to their communities.
“We hope this agreement will be honoured by both parties. We are especially happy that the new MEC took steps to make sure that a resolution was reached, unlike the previous MEC who did not want to hear anything we had to say,” Kunene said.
Wata spokesperson Mandlenkosi Maphalala said they had to resort to using their private vehicles to ferry passengers between the taxi ranks despite there being an order preventing them from operating.
“This was a tough period because sometimes we would get stopped by traffic officers who would threaten to take our cars. We are happy that this has been resolved; we promise to honour our agreement moving forward,” Maphalala said.
Meanwhile, Mamabolo said they would engage the community on Wednesday evening to establish whether they have qualms with the reopening of the routes and ranks.