A week-long taxi strike in the Western Cape has come to an end following an agreement between taxi bosses and the provincial government. During the strike, buses were set on fire, cars were stoned, and commuters were left stranded. The bitter tussle was ignited by what taxi bosses say was an intransigent municipality that decided to impound taxis for traffic violations.

By Philiswa Mbanjwa

The taxi strike in the Western Cape Province has finally come to an end after a week of intense, destructive, and violent protests.

The resolution was reached following negotiations between municipal authorities and the taxi council on the evening of Thursday.

The unrest began when the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) declared a shutdown due to their inability to resolve multiple issues with the local government. Principal among their concerns was a new municipal law that authorised local authorities to seize vehicles for violations such as driving without a valid licence or registration plates.

Violence escalated in different areas of the city following the police’s decision to impound vehicles last week. Angry demonstrators set fire to buses and cars and clashed with law enforcement, even throwing stones. Unfortunately, five people died as a result of the violent clashes during the strike.

On Friday morning, city officials and Santaco representatives held a press briefing. During this session, the agreement’s specifics were disclosed.

According to News24, the agreement permits the ongoing impounding of vehicles in line with the National Land Transportation Act (NLTA). Vehicles can be impounded for offences such as operating without the necessary licences, deviating from the approved route, not having driver’s licences, or if the vehicles are deemed unsafe.

According to News24, within the next two weeks, a taxi task force will create a detailed list of serious offences that will lead to the impounding of vehicles and minor offences that will result in fines.

Many commuters who were affected by the strike and had to miss work are greatly relieved by this resolution. Bhedeshani Tshobeni, for example, shared how the strike had a negative financial impact on their life.

“I work on a no work, no pay basis, so this strike really hit me financially,” Tshobeni told The Telegram. “I am quite relieved that things have calmed down and I can go to work.”

The conclusion of the taxi strike marks a significant moment following a week characterised by turmoil, aggression, and casualties. With the Western Cape Province gradually returning to a state of normality, the accord between city authorities and Santaco seeks to tackle the worries of taxi operators and cultivate a more secure atmosphere for commuters and those involved in the industry.

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