Province and City Urge SANTACO to Call Off Strike
Following a decision taken by members of its executive committee, SANTACO has announced that from Monday, 15 March 2011 the minibus taxi industry will go on strike.
The stated aims of strike are to force the City to renegotiate BRT Phase 1-A and to force the Provincial Government to impose a moratorium on the impounding of illegally operated minibus taxis.
On Tuesday, members of SANTACO threatened to prevent all public transport and delivery services from operating, and warned that taxis going about their normal and lawful business would be burnt, fined or impounded.
"This decision to strike is ill-advised and unnecessary. It is not in the interests of the industry, commuters, or the public at large. The industry leaders in the taxi associations are not coming out in support of it and several have, in strictest confidence, stated their opposition to it.
The stated aims of the strike in no way reflect the realities on the ground in terms of either BRT or impoundments. The City and the Province have worked closely and in good faith with the taxi industry, and continue to do so."
"What has been exceedingly disappointing is that SANTACO met with the Province three weeks ago to express their concerns about impounds and related matters. We collectively agreed to the establishment of a joint government - taxi industry task team to tackle the specific concerns they raised."
We have already established a team drawn from across the board of national, provincial and municipal officials, and produced the draft terms of reference hours prior to the delivery of the strike notice. Contrary to what has been said by the SANTACO executives involved, the national government's policy of rolling out integrated transport networks, like the City's BRT system, was not mentioned."
Adding to our surprise at the call for a strike given the joint process we had agreed to with SANTACO, we have established that Marius Fransman, the Provincial leader of the ANC, was present at the meeting at which SANTACO executives decided to strike. The presence of Mr. Fransman puts the ANC at the heart of a strike which will gravely affect commuters, threaten public safety and further disrupt our already overburdened public transport systems."
The ANC's Songezo Mjongile publicly supported the strike at a separate meeting the following day where threats to burn taxis, buses and trains were made, which he did not condemn.
Fransman and the ANC, desperate to turn the tide in the Province, have been creating service delivery disruptions for political ends, regardless of the threat to the livelihoods and safety of the public. Is Mr. Fransman hoping that a violent protest can be ignited, so that when law enforcement responds, he can manipulate the facts into the ANC's wit gevaar narrative about the current administration?
"In the meantime, our priority is to ensure the safety of the public, and the maintenance of law and order. We will not tolerate intimidation, threats or violent action, or any illegal action whatsoever. The law enforcement agencies will be prepared to deal with any eventuality that may compromise the safety of commuters.
We have urged SANTACO to call off the planned strike. It will do nothing to create the peaceful, well-regulated and prosperous taxi industry we all seek and may compel the provincial government to reconsider the nature of its support for the provincial taxi council.
A team of officials from the City and Province will meet tomorrow to finalise and inform the public about alternative transport plans to mitigate the impact of the strike."
Media Liaison Officer for Ministry of Transport of Public Works
Tel: 021 483 8954
Cell: 083 641 9691