NATIONAL NEWS - The protesters also tried to block streets with burning tyres and other objects, according to Tshwane metro police (TMPD) spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba.
No arrests were made and no injuries were reported. In Olievenhoutbosch, Laudium and Pretoria West 13 taxis, which were parked in the middle of the road, were impounded. Metro police monitored the areas until the situation was normalised.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula visited Soshanguve on Monday afternoon to address disgruntled taxi operators.
“Now is not the time to fight,” Mbalula pleaded with the crowd of taxi operators.
Mbalula reiterated his department’s stance that government would not increase its R1.1-billion relief offered to the sector, which the industry says is not enough.
“We have made it clear that the money is not compensation, it’s a relief,” he said.
“I cannot go beyond R5 000 [once-off] per operator.”
Mbalula also said the industry needed to be ‘formalised’.
He also said he would engage with government and provide feedback on the industry’s proposal for a 100% loading capacity.
Mbalula said he would meet with the industry leaders this week, once he has met with the national coronavirus command council.
He also proposed that taxi fares be reduced for the benefit of struggling working South African who use them daily. Taxi operators at the meeting, however, rejected Mbalula’s proposals, saying that ‘he did not understand their pain’.
They also raised concerns on how police treated them. Mbalula left the gathering when discussions grew heated. South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) spokesperson Midday Mali said taxis would resume normal operations on Tuesday.
He said the provincial taxi shutdown was planned only for one day to raise the industry’s issues with government. Mali said the taxi industry was still not happy that their demands were not met, but were consoled that the ministry opened the door for discussions.
“We will meet with the minister sometime this week, probably on Wednesday, to further discuss the issues we face. Santaco demanded a 100% load capacity for taxi drivers to economically recover from the effects of the lockdown.”
“We also need the minister to talk to the banks to give us ‘payment holidays’ because some of our vehicles are being repossessed right now. We are unable to pay our monthly instalments. We are also asking the minister to reopen long-distance trips so that we can start making money to provide for our families again.”
The three months ban on long-distance trips has been a major inconvenience to the industry. Mali believed the government’s proposals of formalising the industry would ‘fail’ due to ‘foul’ legislative processes.