A delivery van and a MyCiTi bus station in Joe Slovo Park near Milnerton were petrol bombed by taxi drivers on Tuesday morning in protest against an ongoing law enforcement clampdown on illegally operating taxis.
Taxi drivers blocked Democracy Drive with rubble and burning tyres, with about 30 mini-bus taxis belonging to protesting drivers parked alongside the blockaded road.
About 20 SAPS and Metro Police officers fired rubber bullets at the irate taxi drivers as black smoke billowed from a number of locations in the Joe Slovo settlement.
Business in the vicinity was brought to a stand still, with shops operating on both sides of Democracy Drive closing their shutters.
Taxi drivers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there business was under pressure from the MyCiTi bus service and they had been left in the lurch by their former bosses who received payouts from the City to make way for the new public transport system.
“We have been in the industry for 15-years. We bought these taxi vans after MyCiTi left us, (they) only compensated taxi owners and we never got anything from our former bosses (who received a) payout from the City,” said one of the protesting drivers.
They said they had struck a financing deal with Toyota to purchase their mini-buses and were paying R15 000 a month and the law enforcement clampdown put them in an impossible situation.
“We have wives, children, brothers and sisters what are we going to feed them?”
They said when the City began to implement the MyCiTi service along the West Coast Road (R27) in 2010 they were led to believe they it would create job opportunities for all affected drivers, but this had not been the case.
Kidrogen, one of the MyCiTi vehicle operating companies formed by the affected taxi bosses on the West Coast, had apparently told some taxi bosses that they had enough drivers.
“They say we don’t have matric to qualify to be trained as bus drivers. (But) there are people driving buses whot were never taxi drivers.”
They said a meeting with the City’s transport officials was held in the township on Monday and the City representatives refused to recognise their complaints.
“They say they only recognise former taxi bosses who are now MyCiTi bus Vehicle Operating Company (VOC) shareholders as they had taxi operating permits. They dont recognise us,” they said.
In the meantime, they said the resurgence of mini-bus taxis had once again started providing economic opportunities to gatjies, taxi washers and mechanics who had been left vulnerable since the introduction of the MyCiTi service.
After being asked for comment, City of Cape Town senior media liaison Lizel Steenkamp stated: “The City will issue a media release later today (Tuesday).”
Western Cape provincial police communication Constable Noloyiso Rwexan confirmed the violent protests and said a case of public violence is under investigation.
“Police are on the scene, the scene is still active. No one has been arrested at this stage. No injuries were reports at this stage,” said Rwexan.–Peter Luhanga/WCN