GEORGE NEWS - The organiser of this morning’s protest march against the roll-out of Phase 4B of Go George, Zola Swapi, demanded that the George Municipality suspend the roll-out planned for next Sunday, 22 March.
“The roll-out of Phase 4B before Phase 4A (Thembalethu) will contribute to conflict in the industry and the community. Another problem is the infrastructure. Parkdene, Borcherds, Lawaai and Conville are worse than Thembalethu,” said Swapi during a lengthy speech before memorandums were handed over to Acting Municipal Manager Steven Erasmus and Quinton Williams of provincial traffic.
In the memorandum to the municipality, the group demanded that taxis be allowed to compete with the buses on the various routes.
“We also demand that you, George Municipality, suspend the 60 permits recently granted to members of Uncedo Taxi Association. Why was this done? All the while, since 2010, you have been refusing to grant permits. And lastly we want the forensic report (Brasika Report) to be made available. Let us table it [sic],” Swapi added.
Swapi also put in a request to the George Municipality for a supporting letter to register the group that organised the march under the name “Disadvantaged Taxi Association”. He said the group, that is affiliated with Codeta, consists of 29 members, 14 members with permits and 15 new members.
During his speech loaded with controversial statements, Swapi also had a go at the local provincial traffic department, saying they want two traffic officers, whom he mentioned by name, to stop shooting at their taxis and putting the community in danger.
“We also demand, we demand that provincial traffic officers stop driving our taxis without PDP. You can’t fix one wrong with another wrong. If the law allows them to do that, then we want to see a citation that states it.
"We want them [provincial traffic officers] to treat us with respect and dignity. The [im]pounding of our taxis – it has to be conducted in a proper manner and it does not allow officers to abuse their power,” Swapi said.
Among the speakers at the march was the son of former Uncedo chairman Sikhumbuza Mini, who was gunned down in 2016 outside his home in Thembalethu. Phumlani Mini (18) talked about how his life and that of his family had changed after his father’s death.
“My dad died when I was in Grade 9 and I could not finish my exams, nor my brother. Today I want to speak up for my father. He was a good man who did not hurt anyone. He never said Go George must not come into Thembalethu or anywhere else, but yet they chose to kill him.
"My father told me, ‘this [the taxi business] is your inheritance’. He said, ‘If I die, carry on, this is what you grew up on’. We were brought up and put through school by my father’s taxi business.
"My mother still has nightmares, it is difficult for us. Me and my brother as boys need a father, our father, for guidance. I know who killed my dad. But my father lives on in us, and we will fight for what is fair and right till the end,” he said.
Some of the other speakers included a woman from Blanco who complained about Go George buses, saying they want the taxis back. She said there are no shuttles [smaller Go George mini buses] in Blanco, which leads to them having to wait 10 to 15 minutes for a bus to the CBD. The cost of a single bus ticket (now at R13 per a ticket) is also too expensive, she said.
John Joko from Borcherds said residents of the neighbourhood were not properly consulted or briefed on Go George and that the bus service is forced on them. They want the option of taking a taxi or a bus, he said.
Swapi said he gives the provincial traffic department and George Municipality 72 hours to respond to their demands.
George Herald was told that no permits were issued. According to a reliable source with knowledge of the application process for taxi permits, no permits had in fact been granted. Processing applications that were recently submitted is still at the beginning stage.
It will be advertised in the Government Gazette for any objections, and an adjudication panel will interview applicants before granting any approval.
Asked why the applications were accepted, the source’s opinion was that it could be part of recent negotiations effected through the intervention of the national and provincial ministers of transport.
This article will be updated as soon as comment from the George Municipality and the department of transport has been received.
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