US, UK and Australia issue alerts over taxi violence in South Africa

 ·8 Aug 2023

Tensions between the City of Cape Town and the taxi council have boiled over, resulting in several countries issuing an alert to their citizens planning on travelling to the city – with some suggesting they delay their trips if possible to avoid harm.

Taxi operators have been engaging in a violent protest for several days in response to the City of Cape Town authorities impounding multiple vehicles last week.

On Thursday (3 August), the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) declared a seven-day strike against the city. As a result, they have ceased operations, leaving commuters and public servants, such as healthcare, teachers, and social workers, stranded.

Meanwhile, violence linked to the strike has erupted in the city, where vehicles have been petrol-bombed, roads have been blocked, and two men have been confirmed to have been shot and killed during the demonstrations, reported News24.

The Western Cape, known for its tourist attractions, has been negatively impacted by the strike, causing damage to its reputation.

The City of Cape Town has said that its tourism is now under threat as multiple countries have warned its citizens to exercise a high level of caution, with some suggesting they delay their trips to the coastal city.

These countries include the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.

The notices warn travelling tourists that “transportation strikes have been taking place in the Cape Town area. They have led to acts of vandalism, arson and violence. The situation is volatile and could escalate without notice”.

The notices added that the strikes had caused significant disruptions to transportation, including on major highways and roads to and from the airport, due to convoys and roadblocks.

They advised their citizens already in the province to:

  • Be prepared to modify plans and itinerary in case of disturbances;
  • Expect enhanced security measures and increased police presence;
  • Seek advice from trusted local sources, such as hotels, a travel agent or the police, if they consider using alternative routes; and
  • Monitor local media for the latest information on the evolving situation.

The UK and Australia have advised citizens who plan to travel to Cape Town to consider delaying their trips.

According to reports, the tourism industry in the Western Cape accounts for 9% of the gross regional product and employs 9% of the province’s workforce.

As a result of the strikes and the issues of warnings by these countries, the city expects lower bookings for local establishments. “This concern is amplified by the fact that the sector is currently in its peak booking season, which aligns with the upcoming summer period,” the chamber said in a statement.

On Monday (7 August), the Western Cape High Court issued an interdict against Santaco and its affiliates due to the ongoing violent taxi strike in Cape Town.

The order, handed down by Judge Patrick Gamble, forbids anyone or any vehicle from blocking Cape Town’s roads unreasonably to harm or delay passengers using other modes of transportation. Additionally, members of the taxi industry are not allowed to come within 100 metres of a transport depot.

Read: South Africa’s most ‘undesirable’ province

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