Taxi strike hits Eskom

 ·4 Aug 2023

Power utility Eskom says that taxi strikes that have erupted in the Western Cape will impact its service levels, and the danger posed to its technicians and engineers means it will take longer for faults and other issues to be addressed.

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

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) announced on Thursday it would embark on a seven-day strike against the city, having terminated operations with immediate effect, leaving commuters stranded.

Meanwhile, violence linked to the strike has erupted in the city, where vehicles have been petrol-bombed, roads have been blocked and various critical services have been heavily disrupted.

Eskom issued an alert on Friday that one of its vehicles was petrol-bombed in the unrest.

While the driver of the vehicle was off-duty at the time, the incident is currently being investigated by the group’s security team.

However, as a result of the wider strike, the utility warned that services would be disrupted.

“Eskom will exercise extreme caution when delivering services to other Eskom supply areas. Eskom urges customers to remain patient and follow the channels made available to log a fault.”

Services have been completely suspended in the areas impacted by the strike, including Khayelitsha, Delft, Belhar, Du Noon, Philippi and Fisantekraal, it said.

Calls for calm

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has urged mini-bus taxi leaders affiliated with the Santaco – whohe says are behind a destructive province-wide strike – to return to the table and work with the provincial government and the City of Cape Town to resolve long-standing issues that have confronted the industry.

“We recognise the important role the mini-bus taxi sector plays in the public transport industry and economy. But calling a strike, that has been accompanied by violence, is not the answer to resolving the grievances of operators and drivers. This will be a blow to our shared economic growth and will impact the poor the hardest,” he said.

The city has been on a years-long campaign to bring taxi operators in line with safety and security standards and to ensure that they operate within the law.

However, the taxi associations have seen the latest move as irrational and targetting operators. As a result, Santaca has withdrawn from the city’s Minibus Taxi Task Team, which was established to deal with issues raised by industry leaders.

Winde said that long-term solutions are “desperately needed” but could not be formulated under the current circumstances.

“Violence is not the answer. You have the right to strike, but not to endanger the lives of residents and law enforcement officers and destroy property. The safety of commuters, the very lifeblood of the taxi industry, who are bearing the brunt of this violent protest action, is of paramount importance,” he said.

Given the violence of the protests, the premier said that the provincial government is investigating legal action against the minibus taxi associations to interdict the violence associated with the strike.

Read: SA Taxi to be restructured

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