Taxi drivers’ protest leaves commuters stranded

Mom misses baby’s hospital appointment, learner misses school as more vehicles torched

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Dozens of commuters were left stranded on Wednesday as protests by taxi drivers in Nyanga and Philippi continued. Several vehicles were petrol-bombed during the morning. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

Yoliswa Nikani from Loyd informal settlement in Nyanga woke up before sunrise on Wednesday in order to get to her baby’s appointment at Red Cross Hospital. Instead, Nikani and her 18-month-old were left stranded alongside dozens of other commuters due to the violent protests by taxi drivers.

“I have been waiting since 6am for a bus. People suggested I go to Site C but I don’t have enough money and I’m not even sure if I will get a bus in Nyanga with this protest,” said Nikani. She decided to return home after waiting for more than two hours in the cold with her baby.

Taxi drivers, who have been protesting in Nyanga and Philippi since Thursday last week, are demanding that the City of Cape Town Traffic Service return impounded taxis. So far about 86 vehicles have been impounded.

Learner Thandile Booi told GroundUp he could not get to school because there were no buses in Govan Mbeki Road. “What frustrates me most is that no one knows when this is going to end. Since last week I have been taking a taxi to Khayelitsha for R12. In the afternoons, I get off in Lower Crossroads or take a Delft bus, then walk to my area and it is not safe. Today I don’t have extra money, only a monthly ticket,” he said.

City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, was also in the area to monitor the situation during peak-hour traffic. In a statement Smith said that drivers of Avanza vehicles were apparently petrol-bombing private vehicles. At least seven more vehicles were torched during the morning, two belonging to the City.

He said the torching of one of the private vehicles also set alight an informal house in Klipfontein Road. “The fire department responded and the vehicles were doused,” he said.

Smith said the Golden Arrow Bus Service had to load passengers on the side of the N2 on the Borcherds Quarry Road.

Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works Daylin Mitchell has urged protesters to stop the violence. Mitchell said he had called an urgent meeting with leaders of the SA National Taxi Council (SANTACO) for Thursday.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi said no arrests had been made by Wednesday afternoon.

TOPICS:  Crime Transport

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