Meter taxi drivers say they are willing to lay down their lives to prevent Uber drivers from invading “their territory”.
“There is nothing we can do but to protect our territory, whether by blood or iron. We will have to die because we are already dead,” said meter taxi owner Oupa Skhosane.
Skhosane and a group of disgruntled meter taxi owners met with national and provincial transport ministries in Sandton on Monday morning to discuss the ongoing clashes between Uber and Taxify drivers.
The meeting with the Minister of Transport Joe Maswanganyi and Gauteng MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi comes after three cars were torched in the latest clashes between Uber and meter taxi drivers.
Skhosane said the violence against meter taxis is never reported, saying a car was burnt in front of police on Friday evening, but nothing was done.
“There is an extra of 7,000 Uber cars in Johannesburg. It is over flooding the area and that is the main cause of the violence. We can’t allow people from America to come and take over here,” he said.
‘It is not fair’
Skhosane told Maswanganyi that the deployment of more law enforcement in the area was wasted and could have been used to protect the rest of the country.
Tuk-Tuk driver Fanie Makoto claimed he was assaulted by 15 taxi drivers for operating in the area.
Makoto pointed to his bruised eye and said: “Look what they did to me. Just look, it is not fair man.”
He moved from the Democratic Republic of Congo a few years ago to find work in South Africa.
Makoto claimed that they knew the identity of the taxi drivers who are assaulting them, but police refused to listen to them.
“They hit my friend with a hammer over his fingers. We opened a case at the police station, but no one came to us or told us how far the case is,” he said.
Speaking outside the Sandton Gautrain station, Maswanganyi said all public transport operators must have permits and licences to operate.
The minister said he informed Uber, Taxify and Zebra during their meeting on July 27 that their partners must apply for permits.
“Uber and Taxify are not transport operators. What they operate is the act; it is their partners who are operators. We urge them that their operators should apply for licences through the provincial regulatory entity,” he said.
He said no one would be allowed to operate public transport without a permit.
“Nobody will be allowed to park anywhere where it is not a designated space for operators. We can’t just close our eyes and don’t do anything. It will create a bad image for our country.”
MEC Nkosi-Malobane warned that vehicles without a permit would be impounded.
“If you don’t have the necessary documentation, particular operator’s licence, roadworthy certificate and the professional driving permit, we will act against that particular individual and impound that vehicle.”
Nkosi-Malobane said if the violence in the area continued, they would close the routes and anyone who operates in the area will have their car impounded and given a fine of R25,000 per car.