SANTACO ends the taxi strike

Mayor describes what has been agreed to

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From left: MEC for Mobility Ricardo Mackenzie, Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, Western Cape Premier Alan WInde and the Mayco Member for Mobility Roberto Quintas. They addressed the media after a long meeting with SANTACO’s leadership on Thursday. Photo: Matthew Hirsch

Update at 20:52 on Thursday 10 August: “SANTACO has published a statement saying: “It is with profound relief that we announce the immediate cessation of the Stay Away. This comes after painstaking deliberations and immense pressure on all parties involved.”

It further says that there is an agreement between the taxi association and government that the “next 14 days will be utilised to work towards the release of the vehicles that were wrongly impounded”.

Update at 22:33: Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has explained the terms of the agreement:

“- Impoundments under the National Land Transportation Act (NLTA) will continue for vehicles driving without an operating license, or on the incorrect route, or without a driver’s license, or which are not roadworthy.

- We have agreed that the Taxi Task Team will further define a list, within 14 days, of additional major offences in terms of which vehicles will continue to be impounded in future. This will take the form of an Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to guide enforcement staff on the exercise of the discretionary power provided for in the NLTA.

- Our focus in the task team will be to ensure that all traffic offences which impact on commuter safety remain as major offences. Road safety for commuters and other road users is a non-negotiable, a position the City has not budged on.

- The Task Team will similarly compile an agreed-upon list of minor offences, which do not have commuter safety implications, and which will not be impoundable. The City continues to believe it will be able to demonstrate to Santaco that we have already been following this distinction for some time.

Importantly, if Santaco believes that any of their taxis have been impounded for these minor offences, then they can produce the relevant impoundment notices and the City will then make representations to the Public Prosecutor to support the release of these vehicles.

We have also made two important improvements for the future.

- Santaco has agreed that never again will they call a strike during the middle of a working day, and that they will always give at least 36 hours’ notice ahead of planned strike action. We should never again see a repeat of thousands of people being forced to walk home.

- Secondly, before calling strike action, the Task Team will now have a dispute escalation and resolution clause, to escalate disputes directly to the Premier and Mayor before a strike action will be considered.”

The City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government have offered what they consider to be a reasonable proposal to end the taxi strike.

This announcement came after the City, province and South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) were locked in a closed meeting that lasted for about two hours on Thursday afternoon.

The taxi strike, which is now in its eighth day, has caused havoc for commuters and seen vehicles being stoned and burned. On Thursday, there was also a food shortage, with fresh bread being difficult to find.

There was confusion before the meeting, where it seemed as if SANTACO had initially declined an invitation to meet, but ultimately several of their leaders attended.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, who addressed the media after the meeting, said they had put a very reasonable offer on the table. “We are giving it to them and they are going back to their office and will look at it with their team. We can’t really say too much more right now.”

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis had previously promised to head back to the negotiating table, if there was a sustained period of peace. “We would have hoped to have a final agreement, but we don’t have that yet. We’ve made what we think is a very considerate proposal. It is now up to them. Hopefully, with any luck, we will have an agreement soon.”

He said that the first consideration in making the proposals is and will always be the safety of commuters in the city and province.

“With our minds on how we can keep commuters and people who use taxis safe and other road users safe, we really sincerely hope that SANTACO will be mature, accept our reasonable proposal, and end this strike with the interest in getting back to some normalcy in the city.”

Initially, SANTACO declined the invitation to return to negotiations. A statement by the organisation said that it was seeking an immediate solution to its vehicles being impounded. The organisation plans to go to court against the City on this matter.

After the meeting, the organisation’s leaders said they would go back to their base in Bellville to consult with their team and draft a media statement.

This article will be updated once SANTACO has decided whether or not to accept the agreement.

TOPICS:  Cape Town taxi strike 2023 Transport

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