Johannesburg – Four taxi drivers have been arrested and five taxis have been impounded in Soweto after drivers ignored the suspension imposed by the provincial government.
Last week, Gauteng Transport MEC Ismail Vadi announced the closure of disputed taxi ranks and routes in Soweto following months of intimidation and violence which has resulted in fatalities.
The arrested were allegedly trying to operate in the taxi ranks that have been shut down. Vadi said his decision to shut down the ranks was in the public’s interest after the Nancefield-Dube West Association and the Wits Taxi Association failed to resolve their fights over routes.
However, some Soweto residents feel that feel that Vadi’s decision to shut down the ranks has punished commuters more than taxi operators.
One resident said the decision was shortsighted and has affected more routes and businesses.
“Instead of punishing the taxi drivers and owners, he punishes the civilians, the innocent civilians which is unfair for us,” said Soweto resident Michael Maite.
“I am running a salon in Orlando West and I have got clients who are moving with taxis and they are no longer coming.
“I am punished, my business is suffering now, I can’t pay rent, I can’t pay anything and instead of punishing those guys he punishes us.”
The ranks are expected to be closed until 13 August.
The affected ranks and routes include Mofolo Kwa-Mthethwa informal taxi rank, Makhetha stores informal taxi rank; Dube Station taxi rank, Makhetha garage taxi rank in Phefeni, and Uncle Tom’s taxi rank.