Bellville and Bloekombos taxi ranks reopened
The Bellville and Bloekombos Taxi Ranks have been reopened with effect from 3pm on 27 September 2018 after having been closed for five days by the Priority Committee on Transport (TPC) in response to recurring violence in the Bellville and Kraaifontein areas between Bellville Taxi Association and Bloekombos-Wallacedene Taxi Association. The violence resulted in serious injury and death to public transport commuters, operators and drivers as well as damage to property. The decision to reopen the ranks was made after a peace agreement was reached between the parties.
The TPC, comprising the Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW), the City of Cape Town, the National Prosecuting Authority, and the South African Police Service, emphasised that the closure of ranks is an absolute last resort in circumstances where violence is out of control. This action was necessary because the safety of commuters and persons entering and leaving the affected areas could no longer be guaranteed. The affected associations were also suspended by the Provincial Taxi Registrar.
Since the closure of the ranks, DTPW in partnership with the City of Cape Town has facilitated several discussions with the affected associations and the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) and Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (CODETA). The industry has also met without government parties being present. This resulted in agreement being reached between the parties on critical operational matters. This agreement was presented to government today with the request to re-open the ranks. The affected associations have also agreed to enter into an arbitration process to find further solutions to operational challenges. The memorandum of agreement signed between the parties will also be made an order of Court.
A working committee will be established between the two associations to oversee operations on shared routes and to report violations of the agreement to the Office of the Provincial Taxi Registrar. The associations have also agreed not to impose decisions on one another and to respect operating rights. No legal operators will be prevented from providing the services so authorised by their operating licences.
Given the willingness by both parties to restore peace and stability, DTPW decided to re-open both the Bellville and Bloekombos taxi ranks. The Registrar will however not lift the suspension on the two associations. This will prevent affiliate members from lodging applications for the granting and amendment of operating licences. The suspension is an administrative suspension and not an operational suspension which means that associations may still operate according to their operating licences. The Office of the Registrar in partnership with the City of Cape Town will monitor the situation on the ground to determine the effectiveness of the agreed interventions. The suspension will be reviewed by the Registrar after a period of one month.
DTPW will nevertheless follow due process to declare the affected areas as high-risk in respect of taxi violence. This will allow the Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works to invoke his powers in terms of section 91 of the National Land Transport Act (Act 5 of 2009) should there be any further incidents of violence. In the event of further violence, he may then proceed to close certain ranks and routes and to suspend affected operating licences after consultation with other key stakeholders.
We are hopeful that this will not be necessary and that the signing of today’s agreement will result in lasting peace and stability in the greater Bellville and Kraaifontein areas. The Minister of Transport and Public Works wants to thank his officials, members of the South African Police Service, the City of Cape Town’s Transport, Traffic and Metro Police units and the leadership of the taxi industry for facilitating these discussions in order to ensure a safe and dignified environment for our commuters.
DTPW thanks commuters and local businesses for their understanding and patience during this volatile period.