South Africa: Taxi industry strike to hit commuters in Ekurhuleni

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Commuters throughout the City of Ekurhuleni will be left stranded on Tuesday morning due to a strike by the taxi industry.

What makes things worse is that the City of Ekurhuleni announced on Monday that it would suspend its bus services due to the strike.

“The taxi industry in Ekurhuleni has given the City notice that its members will be embarking on a march tomorrow‚ March 20. Due to this anticipated protest‚ which will take place throughout Ekurhuleni‚ the City would like to inform the public that its bus services will be suspended as a precautionary measure for the day – following a threat of violence. Therefore‚ commuters are encouraged to seek alternative modes of transport for tomorrow‚ Tuesday March 20….The bus service will be fully operational from Thursday‚ March 22.

“Commuters will be compensated with a free ride for a lost day‚” the City of Ekurhuleni said on Monday.

Meanwhile‚ the management of OR Tambo International Airport‚ which is situated in Ekurhuleni‚ has advised passengers travelling to the airport on Tuesday of possible disruptions to road access by protesting taxi drivers.

Spokesperson Leigh Gunkel-Keuler said the airport had received unconfirmed reports of plans for protest action that would start from as early as 2am on Tuesday. She said this protest action could involve attempts to obstruct the R21 and R24 freeways as well as rail links with the objective of disrupting access to the airport.

“We would advise passengers‚ especially those taking early flights‚ to anticipate delays and leave earlier for the airport than they would under normal circumstances‚” said Gunkel-Keuler.

The possible blockading of the R21 and R24 freeways would precede other protest action by taxi associations which had received the necessary approvals from local authorities. Any blockade of the freeways would not be part of the approved plans for protest marches and processions to the offices of the Ekurhuleni metro‚ she said.

She said the aim of the protest action was to highlight grievances of the Ekurhuleni Taxi Industry (ETI)‚ under the Ekurhuleni leadership of both the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA)‚ against the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality.

The groups planned to protest against what what they said were delays in the roll-out of the Harambee Bus Rapid Transport System. Gunkel-Keuler said contingency plans would be activated in the event of blockades in order to minimise possible disruption to access to the airport precinct.

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