Talks between the Mpumalanga Department of Roads and Transport and the taxi operators have deadlocked. That’s over the taxi operators’ push to have the department revoke bus company, Buscor’s operating licence.
Taxi operators were on strike last week, demanding that Buscor cease operations beyond peak hours. Thousands of bus and taxi commuters were left stranded in Mbombela, White River, Hazyview, Barberton and surrounding townships and villages.
The Mpumalanga Department of Roads and Transport says it’s against the law to temper with the operating licence of the Bus Company.
The taxi operators have now resolved to escalate their demands to Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane. The taxi operators don’t want buses to operate beyond peak hours.
They are also demanding a 30% share of the bus company. Taxi operators say they are disappointed with the outcome of today’s meeting.
“That’s why we are here. We are trying to get the premier herself. Maybe she can tell us something. Nothing we have from the MEC is what I can say,” says John Mavundla from Top Star taxi association.
Buscor alone ferries over 250 000 commuters daily.
Business associations are also disappointed with the current impasse. They are worried about escalating tension and the possible impact on the business industry.
“With the taxi association, whatever challenges presented, the seven challenges they are talking about, they didn’t get one answer. So, I’m just disappointed because the community at large is going to suffer. The business is going to suffer, our engagement is to find an amicable solution so that there is no fight,” says Mandla Mashego, African National Chamber of Commerce and Industry President.
The department says reviewing the operating licence of Buscor will be a breach of contract.
“As with any implementation or any negotiations between the two sectors, it would mean a breach of the contract we, as government, have; not with the bus industry, not with Buscor (but) with all our service providers across the province. I think it must be said that we understand the financial strain that the taxi industry is facing. It’s not only the taxi industry but also business,” Mohitha Latchminarain, MEC for Public Works, Roads and Transport, Mpumalanga.
The department has appealed to all the stakeholders to work together and defuse the tensions within the industry.
Buscor temporarily suspends Mbombela operations: