SEE: The 6 taxi ranks in Soweto to be shut down over escalating violence
Several taxi routes and ranks in Soweto and the Johannesburg CBD have officially been shut down by Gauteng roads and transport MEC Ismail Vadi as a result of ongoing conflict.
Vadi published the regulations in the provincial gazette on Wednesday, closing taxi routes and ranks that have been beset by violence, unrest and instability.
The Witwatersrand African Taxi Owners Association (WATA) and Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe) have been at the centre of the ongoing conflict, Vadi said.
"Practically, what this means is that specific taxi ranks and routes in Soweto will be shut down from Friday morning, 15 March, for a period of three months, until 15 June this year," said Vadi.
"This closure of these taxi ranks/routes arises from the ongoing conflict and violence between members of WATA and Nanduwe. It is necessary to shut down their minibus taxi services for the safety of commuters and residents of Soweto."
Vadi recalled several reported of cases since the beginning of 2019 that pertain to the conflict between the two taxi associations.
These include a number of murder cases, several cases of malicious damage to property and one of public violence where six people were shot, seven vehicles damaged and one vehicle was burnt on March 5 this year.
He added that on March 11 around 300 taxi drivers believed to be linked to WATA and Nanduwe unlawfully used their vehicles to disrupt traffic in the Johannesburg CBD for several hours.
Vadi added that a person would be found guilty of an offence if they operated minibus taxi services in contravention of the temporary regulations.
"Where a person is convicted of contravening regulations, a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding R25 000 may be imposed."
The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) welcomed the closure of six taxi ranks in Soweto operated by two warring taxi associations.
However, the union said it was also worried about the negative impact the closure would have on the economy.
Satawu general secretary Jack Mazibuko said Vadi's decision would assist in mitigating the spate of violence between the two associations.
Satawu condemns territorial disputes
"The union condemns territorial disputes that result in death of people and injury of commuters. We hope that an amicable solution through the current negotiation process will resolve existing violence and tensions of the two associations. As a backbone of the economy, Satawu is equally worried about the negative impact that the closure will have on the township economy in general and working class and poor commuters in particular.
"Adding to their frustrations is the closure of the M2, load shedding and constant rains which contribute to road congestion and other social challenges. Commuters have been most affected by these developments," said Mazibuko.
The union believes that, if commuters arrive at work late, it could lead to the violation of their contractual obligations.
"To negate this, they are forced to leave their home an hour or two earlier. Swallowed in darkness and silence in their morning walk, subjects them to a web of violence ranging from mugging to the sexual violation of women. Going home is a similar nightmare they were subjected to in the morning," he said.
Mazibuko called on government to regulate the taxi industry.
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