Cabinet talks tough on taxi strikes

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pretoria - Though government is committed to addressing the taxi industry's concerns, violence against commuters as a means to show discontent will not be tolerated, Cabinet said on Thursday.

Cabinet's statement comes after the recent minibus taxi strikes in Gauteng and Cape Town which left thousands of commuters stranded.

The South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) had earlier claimed that the transport department muscled them out of negotiations on how the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system would be implemented in the 2010 FIFA World Cup host cities.

Government spokesperson, Themba Maseko, said while government was committed to addressing their concerns, violence against commuters was unacceptable.

"Violence against law-abiding citizens as a means of highlighting their grievances is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, especially at a time when government is engaged in constructive discussions with industry leaders," he said.

Cabinet's statement follows on minister Sbu Ndebele's comments that his department is still committed to engaging taxi operators on the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the BRT system.

Earlier this month, the City of Joburg and other departments made it a top priority to protect BRT system bus drivers after a house belonging to of one of the Rea Vaya drivers was petrol bombed in Chiawelo, Soweto, on Tuesday night. The driver and his family were not harmed in the attack.

"While we are seeking lasting solutions with the industry, the right of citizens to have access to fast, reliable and safe public transport will remain paramount," said Maseko.

In February the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) said taxi strikes hampered South Africa's recovery from the global economic meltdown.