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City condemns violence, calls on Transport Minister to prioritise minibus-taxi industry

Statement by the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Mobility, Councillor Rob Quintas

Once again, stay-away action by the minibus-taxi industry is being marked by violence, intimidation, thuggery, and attacks on other public transport services, leaving thousands of commuters stranded and deprived from earning an income. The City of Cape Town has also received reports of cars being stoned along the N7 at Dunoon. Given the volatile situation, the City has suspended the N2 Express service in Khayelitsha, with MyCiTi service deviations in place for Dunoon and surrounds, as well as Hout Bay. Similarly, the Dial-a-Ride service for people with special needs has also been suspended in Dunoon, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Bloekombos, Delft and Nyanga until further notice. The suspension of services and route deviations are in the interest of the safety of passengers and staff.

Thus far, the following incidents have been reported to the City:

MyCiTi staff vehicle stopped at 04:43 and staff were held hostage in an effort to prevent them from operating MyCiTi kiosks
Gugulethu declared a ‘no-go area’ shortly after 05:00
A MyCiTi bus set alight shortly before 06:00 at the Steve Biko bus stop on Japhta K Masemola Road in Khayelitsha
MyCiTi bus routes serving Dunoon and surrounding areas deviating with immediate effect as from 09:00 due to intimidation and threats. These are Routes T01; T04 and D08
A MyCiTi bus stoned at Imizamo Yethu at 09:14
No injuries have been reported to the City as yet, still, many commuters and personnel have been traumatised by these events. Also, the destruction of public and private property is totally unacceptable and cannot be condoned, regardless of any grievances the minibus-taxi industry may have.

The City will keep on monitoring the situation and will make adjustments to the MyCiTi routes and schedules as needed. Commuters are advised to call the Transport Information Centre on 0800 65 64 63 for updates. The TIC is available 24/7.

The City notes the demands from SANTACO, who is representing the minibus-taxi operators in the Western Cape, and we fully agree that formalising the industry is key to its long-term sustainability. A modernised and efficient minibus-taxi industry is in the interest of operators, those employed by the industry, and more importantly, commuters. As such, I am calling on the National Minister of Transport to urgently address the call for assistance.

The City is of the view that the National Department of Transport should take the lead in devising a strategy for formalising and modernising the minibus-taxi industry; and secondly, that the National Department should provide the funding for these efforts where they are implemented – be it on local or provincial level.

The City is doing all it can – given its mandate and financial resources – to support the minibus-industry. However, it is the responsibility of the National Department of Transport to address the broader challenges faced by the industry.

Over the past decade or so, the City of Cape Town has developed initiatives towards improving and formalising the minibus-taxi industry insofar as it is within our jurisdiction and mandate. For example, the minibus-taxi operators who were impacted by the roll-out of the first phase of the MyCiTi service are shareholders in three of the four vehicle operating companies who are contracted to operate the MyCiTi bus service, inclusive of the N2 Express. This constituted one of the biggest empowerment drives of the minibus-taxi industry by local government, and also involved capacitation and training.

Recently, the City also implemented a pilot study in the Mitchells Plain area, called the Transport Operating Company (TOC) project, an initiative to formalise minibus-taxi operators through establishing registered companies to provide public transport and other services. The City is engaging the National Department of Transport for funding to implement and test the further roll-out of the TOC project to other areas in Cape Town.

I want to reiterate the following points:

The City is doing all it can – given its local government mandate and financial resources – to support the minibus-taxi industry
However, it is simply impossible for municipalities and ratepayers to carry the financial responsibility of funding the formalisation and modernisation of the minibus-taxi industry
The industry must be supported through funding from the National Government
The funding from National Government should be used to also modernise the industry to improve their efficiencies and bring down operating costs
As such, I am calling on the National Minister of Transport to address SANTACO in the Western Cape’s demands with urgency.

The City is eager and willing to be part of a national effort in ensuring the stability and formalisation of the industry as this will be to the benefit of operators, those employed within the industry, and hundreds of thousands of commuters who rely on their services.

Source: City Of Cape Town