Tensions simmer over route to Mall of Africa
JOHANNESBURG , (CAJ News) – THE Mall of Africa opened amid pomp and fanfare in Midrand but tensions are brewing among taxi associations over plying the lucrative route.
The simmering fights have been blamed for the chaotic transport woes that characterized the opening of the gigantic mall, the second largest single phase shopping mall to be built in Africa.
Commuters were left stranded.
Taxi operators from different routes could be seen dropping off passengers haphazardly as they ditched their usual routes for the lucrative opportunity.
A source in the lucrative but at times violent sector confirms taxi associations says tensions are fermenting.
The heavily-contested route, which led to the recent taxi war, runs to and from Titeng Taxi Rank in Tembisa to Kayalami, via Waterfall Mall Taxi Rank in Midrand.
Contacted from comment, taxi association officials professed ignorance of the tensions.
Samuel Sibisi, Secretary General of Ivory Taxi Association, says they are not anticipating any tensions over the route.
He says their previous dispute with Alexandra Taxi Association was resolved.
“We had issues with K101 but that has since been resolved,” says Sibisi.
A source nonetheless reveals the rift is apparently between ATA and the Alexandra, Midrand and Sandton Taxi Association over the Johannesburg route to the mall.
However, Jabulani Ntshangase, Public Relations Officer ATA downplays any claims of simmering tensions.
“Everything is going well so far though rank closes early prohibiting drivers from getting in the mall,” says Ntshangase.
Gauteng has seen a spate of taxi related violence in recent months, and traffic police say the province is a high risk area for taxi violence.
Taxi associations have committed to peace.
Tembisa Alexandra Taxi Association and Midrand Taxi Association executive members along with police and Ekurhuleni Metro Police recently signed an operational agreement this year following a spate of taxi-related shootings in Tembisa.
According to the agreement, both associations would work peacefully alongside each other as both were entitled to operate the same route.
This is per the legal permission granted through registration with the Department of Transport.
The parties also agreed to hold monthly meetings which would enable all stakeholders to address all challenges faced by the operators collectively.
The taxi industry transports more than 65 percent of commuters. It contributes significantly to the Gauteng economy, creating employment for 400 000 people.
In his State of Province, Gauteng Premier David Makhura, acknowledged in the past twelve months, government held extensive engagements with the taxi industry on public transport plans and the place of the industry in modern public transport system.
“We are also aware that many taxi operators are either operating on routes that are saturated or are applying for taxi operating licenses for these routes that are not profitable. This is a recipe for disaster and
is one of the reasons behind the taxi violence,” said Makhura.
– CAJ News
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