Joburg motorists urged to avoid CBD

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pretoria - The Johannesburg Metropolitan Police have urged motorists to avoid the city centre, especially Bree and Simmonds Streets, due to the march by protesting taxi operators expected later this afternoon.

"Traffic will be affected during the protest and motorists were advised to avoid Bree and Simmonds Street," spokesperson Senior Superintendent Wayne Minnaar told BuaNews on Tuesday.

Operators have been congregating at the Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown. This afternoon they are expected to march to the Department of Public Transport, Roads and Works to hand over a memorandum.

Early morning traffic on the Golden Highway near Zacharia Park was disrupted as taxi operators were driving in a convoy to the city centre. The Metro Police officers were able to bring the situation under control and cleared up the blockade.

There have also been reports of intimidation. According to Mr Minnaar, a Putco bus driver was shot and seriously wounded in Soweto as he was picking up passengers near the Merafe hostel.

Thousands of commuters around the city were stranded and unable to get to work this morning. Many commuters had to queue for bus transportation to work but were also intimidated.

The march is expected to finish by 2:30pm and Mr Minnaar said they would be on high alert and would not tolerate any lawlessness.

Johannesburg Emergency Services spokesperson Percy Morakane told BuaNews that they were also on high alert. "So far there have been no incidences reported except for the shooting incident this morning," he said.

Taxi operators are protesting against the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT), which is a new streamlined bus service government is introducing. They believe it will cause job losses in the transport industry.