Commuters were seen stranded late Monday morning as taxi operators in Gauteng decided to embark on a shutdown in protest against the government’s relief package for the taxi industry.
The SANDF was deployed in order to alleviate traffic and manage the situation. The taxi operators have expressed their disapproval of Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s announcement of a R1.135-billion Covid-19 relief fund for the transport industry.
With the hashtag #Taxistrike trending on Twitter, a number of incidents are being reported, with visuals of long queues for bus services also being shared.
MasterDrive managing director Eugene Herbert offered some tips to avoid trouble during the protests.
“The objective is to avoid the strike completely. Never let a potentially volatile strike catch you by surprise or block yourself in when things can go wrong. South African drivers should be prepared for every scenario,” Herbert said.
- Listen to the news and look at alerts on social media and apps before choosing a route.
- Wherever possible, find routes that go around the conflict.
- Do not to engage with protestors negatively by inciting further conflict.
- Listen to authorities who are trained to defuse the situation and protect all citizens from harm.
- If protesters are damaging vehicles try and turn around where possible and without endangering yourself or other motorists or breaking the law.
- While you will want keep your vehicle undamaged, the most important priority is your personal safety.
- Look out for people gathering at the side of the road or on bridges to avoid being caught up in a strike unaware or before authorities arrive.
- Drive watching 12 seconds ahead of you so that you can identify any volatile situations immediately.
- If you are forced to stop or slow down because of a protest, be careful not to block yourself in.
- Leave room between yourself and the car ahead of you and identify an escape route.
- This will help you avoid getting trapped in by traffic and give you an option to escape the trouble when a safe opportunity arises.
- Be ready to quickly get out of the car if necessary. The car, however, is normally the safest place to be.
- Remaining calm is key.
Over the weekend, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) was alerted by its Gauteng wing that its operators planned to shut the province down in response to Mbalula’s announcement.
According to Santaco spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa, the bodies also demand that government backtrack on its intensified impounding operations, which had seen even less taxis on the province’s roads.
“From what they have told us in the letter, the purpose of the strike is to express their dissatisfaction with the announcement regarding the relief fund for the taxi industry, which is very small,” said Molelekwa.
Taxi drivers were also taking issue with targeted operations around the province leading the mass impounding of operating taxis. This has led to even more taxi operators running out of business due to the lockdown.