A decision by Police Minister Bheki Cele to close two taxi routes in the Mthatha area is hitting taxi operators in the pocket. The Easter weekend is usually a busy period for taxi operators as commuters travel home.
The decision to close the routes was made as the violence linked to routes between the Uncedo Taxi Association and the Border Alliance Association escalated again.
The affected routes are the N2 between Mthatha and Tsolo and the R61 to Port St Johns via Libode. The impact of the closure is evident.
The taxi rank in the area would have been a hive of activity with commuters looking for transport, but with the route suspension in place, it is empty and desolate.
The two taxi organisations are not pleased.
“Ranks are really closed now, but in the end it affects us a lot as you know government is not employing people because most children do work here as conductors and drivers and this affects us because we pay these cars to put bread on the table,” says Border Alliance Committee Member Mzuvukile Mbokodo.
Uncedo Taxi Services Association, Thozamile Mbaxa says,”This is hitting us hard as we already pay excessively for these vehicles around 14 to R15 000 a month. If you buy tyres you don’t make profit that month imagine now with the closure of these routes.”
The taxi violence has claimed more than 60 lives during the past two and half years. The authorities want the killing to end.
“We are really going to fight on behalf of the people that are killed in this place by the people that are greedy, selfish who think about themselves and don’t think about the lives of the people out there,” says Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Commuters are also bemused. “I don’t know what could be done now. I wish they can forgive each other and this thing ends, so that vehicles can start ferrying us, because we depend on the cars. When they are stationery, we are also at a standstill,” says one of the commuters.
It is unclear when the routes will be reopened. The taxi associations are in discussions to resolve the dispute.