Residents of Vereeniging woke up to a chaotic and street barricade on Wednesday the 20th of March 2019. This disruption was caused by angry taxi operators in Vereeniging. Commuting by means of taxis came to a virtual standstill, this left people stranded for the day. Among the taxi operators grievances, the main issue was their promised and incomplete taxi rank by the government. The taxi rank has been under construction for the past five years. Eric Tyantini who is a taxi owner told The Reporter journalist that they decided to protest on a normal working day so that their concerns could be heard.
The taxi operators say they were allocated a space without shelter to conduct their business from. Commuters have to face the hot sun and rain daily. When it rains commuters have to seek shelter under the nearby shop verandas. They complain that the government has been giving them empty promises for much too long. The nearby promised and incomplete taxi rank is overgrown with weeds. This place for criminals who rob commuters and make a quick get away through the overgrowth.
The temporary taxi rank they are utilising belongs to transnet. Taxi operators say transet has given them notice to vacate the area as they would need to use that space, this was confirmed by Mr. Eric Tyantini.
The Morning Star Taxi Association also complained about the potholes and state of disrepair of the routes they have to travel on daily. Their taxis face continuous breakdowns and their tyres never last and this causes their operational costs to escalate.
The taxi association suspects that the delay in the completion of the taxi rank could be linked to suspected corruption as this has rather taken too long to complete. They are now calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in resolving this matter.
Gauteng premier Mr. David Makhura and transport MEC Ismail Vadi met with taxi operators on Friday the 22nd of March 2019 in trying to find a solution to this problem. After the meeting Santaco spokes – person Midday Mali told the press that they were satisfied with the agreement reached with government officials. He also said the strike was now withheld and normal taxi services will resume.
Thirty-six taxi operators were arrested in this incident. On Friday the 22nd of March 2019 the magistrate released all of them citing that the police had withdrawn the charges against them.
Taxi operators said they intend laying charges against the police for damages caused to their vehicles.