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City taxi strike suspended

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The expected taxi strike in Kimberley has been suspended for this week to allow the Northern Cape Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison to engage with local taxi operators.

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THE EXPECTED taxi strike in Kimberley has been suspended for this week to allow the Northern Cape Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison to engage with local taxi operators.

This follows threats that the Kimberley Local Taxi Association (KLTA) and the Kimberley Taxi Association (KTA) would embark on a total shutdown starting from Monday due to the alleged fraudulent issuing of operating route permits.

The taxi operators said that no taxis would be allowed to operate during the shutdown, and that commuters would be “removed” from any taxi found to be operating.

They also threatened that no alternative transport or business of any kind would operate as all routes leading into the CBD would be blocked.

They said that taxi operators would be posted on different routes to blockade roads into the CBD, as well as at the Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison.

KLTA secretary David Lebona expressed the operator’s frustrations in getting a resolution to more than 36 alleged fraudulent permits that were issued when lockdown started last year.

Lebona said they hope to get positive feedback after learning that the department has contacted the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) for an urgent meeting this week.

The date for the proposed meeting is still to be confirmed.

“We were driven to embark on the total shutdown because the department does not take us seriously,” Lebona said.

“We had started engagements with the MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Nomandla Bloem, and the HOD, Moeketsi Dichaba, in 2020 and they promised to resolve the matter by December 2020, but nothing has happened since then.

“During the engagements we produced proof of more than 36 fraudulent permits. We don’t understand why it is taking so long to withdraw those permits because the proof is there already.”

Lebona confirmed that they have agreed to give the department until the end of this week to resolve the matter.

He questioned why the department had contacted Santaco instead of the different local associations. “It is questionable why they contacted Santaco to give feedback instead of us, like when the engagements started.”

The provincial Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison confirmed that it has completed an internal investigation regarding the issuing of operating licences by the regulatory entity, as requested by the taxi industry.

Department spokesperson Rennie Andrias said the provincial leaders of Santaco and the affected associations would meet as soon as possible and the report would be tabled.

“We want to assure the public, and specifically the taxi industry, that our doors remain open to find an amicable solution to problems the industry might face,” said Andrias.

“The taxi industry remains the largest carrier of people in the Province and is thus the main driver of our economy.”