All lanes at the Bellville Public Transport Interchange have re-opened following an agreement signed by the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) and a week of relatively peaceful operations at the interchange and various routes.
Transport and Public Works MEC Daylin Mitchell decided to amend regulations on Friday August 6, allowing Cata and Codeta to load passengers at the Bellville Transport Interchange, which had been closed since Monday July 26.
“It was agreed that all Cata and Codeta-affiliated associations would return to service and that operators will conduct their services with due regard to the rule of law and the safety of the public.”
He said the Department of Transport and Public Works and the affected municipalities are satisfied that the minibus-taxi services are operating normally and accordingly with the agreement.
The Paarl loading lane at the Bellville Long Distance Facility and the B97 Mbekweni-Bellville route both remain closed.
SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) spokesman Gershwin Geyer said there is an agreement in principle between Cata and Codeta but there are still some issues that need further discussion.
“There has also been a definite decline in cases of taxi-related violence since the signing of the agreement and the closure of the Bellville taxi rank as well as the suspension of certain operations. Government and the City will play a major role in seeing that there will be stability in the taxi industry in the future,” Mr Geyer said.
When asked what steps should be taken to maintain the peace between Cata and Codeta, he said: “The taxi associations must stop giving new entrants access to the industry and the government must make sure that no more over trading happens. The route invasions should be also be stopped and government should stop allowing two associations to operate on the same routes.”
The opening of the B97 route however, depends on the fate of an ongoing arbitration process which will determine which taxi operators from the two associations will be given liberties to operate on this route.
“The provincial transport sector decided to take that route to arbitration. We have not been given a date yet as to when this process will be completed. Once we know the outcome we can go back to normal because its been a financial disaster and we’ve all been struggling,” said Cata spokesman Andile Samayo.
Codeta spokesman Andile Khanyi welcomes the re-opening of the Bellville Public Transport Interchange. He said it would alleviate the pocket pinch felt by many taxi operators in the northern suburbs. Mr Khanyi said they would accept the outcome reached through the arbitration process.
“One of the major problems we have is that this route (B97) belongs to someone from either Cata or Codeta and we feel that only the person who has the permit should be given that route. The violence also started regarding issues surrounding that route. We’re happy as long as the drivers have the permits to operate on their routes,” said Mr Khanyi.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said the City’s enforcement agencies would continue to support police at the Bellville Transport Interchange to ensure commuters travel safely.
“Our enforcement agencies will continue to support the South African Police Service by maintaining a high visibility presence at Public Transport Interchanges, and along major taxi routes. In addition, our Traffic Service will continue its daily operations focused on the public transport sector.”