Angry Hammanskraal taxi drivers are threatening to leave commuters stranded if the City of Tshwane and the taxi associations involved in a drop-off agreement don’t meet their demands.
As anger boiled over yesterday they burnt tyres and barricaded roads in Hammanskraal – and commuters burned a building at a taxi rank.
Commuters had to find alternative transport to work yesterday as Hammanskraal Taxi Organisation (Hato) and Stinkwater Eersterust Taxi Association (Seta) taxi drivers refused to work.
The drivers are protesting against the agreement between the city and the taxi associations in terms of which commuters must be dropped at Wonderboom Junction to catch A Re Yeng busses into the city.
Taxi owners were paid out in terms of the agreement, the drivers said, but they had been left out. Taxi drivers earn less as the agreement indicated a fare of R17 per trip to Wonderboom Junction, a drop from the R24 trip into the CBD that they are now barred from doing.
An A Re Yeng bus fare into the city is R8. “We used to earn R1 000 a week, but now we earn R200,” said a Seta driver who did not want to be named. “Our bosses didn’t even consult us about this. “Instead, when we were informed about this agreement and we asked if it would affect our salaries, we were told we will cross that bridge when we get to it. “We don’t like this arrangement because we don’t benefit from it.”
Drivers and commuters handed over a memorandum of demands to the city on Monday, but they were told to stick to the agreement.
“There was apparently a meeting with A Re Yeng officials on Tuesday and after that they asked that from [Wednesday], we continue to drop people off at Wonderboom Junction. We refused. “The agreement as per our memorandum of demands is that we travel into town until they respond to our memorandum. We have been here all night with the intention of stopping operations,” said a Hato driver, who also did not want to be named.
The city says the agreement is to reduce congestion in the CBD. After member of the mayoral committee for transport Sheila Lynn Senkubuge met taxi owners last night, she said while some of the issues could be addressed within a reasonable time, there are legal agreements which cannot just be changed overnight.
“These include the legal agreement that taxis coming from Hammanskraal should drop off commuters at Rainbow junction wherein Are Yeng busses would, ferry them to their final destinations in the CBD.
“Taxi operators were compensated for the route wherein the City paid out R300 000 per vehicle for at least 375 vehicles/taxis,” Senkubuge said.