Taxi as­so­ci­a­tions cross swords

Com­muters out in cold af­ter bat­tle over rank, routes

Daily Dispatch - - News - By ZIKHONA MOYIKWA

COM­MUTERS were stranded yes­ter­day as two war­ring taxi as­so­ci­a­tions clashed on who should op­er­ate from the Tsholom­nqa taxi rank and route.

Uncedo Ser­vice Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion and Mdantsane East Lon­don and district Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion (Melta) driv­ers have been ac­cused of beat­ing four taxi driv­ers aligned to Bor­der Taxi Al­liance. The claim has been de­nied by the as­so­ci­a­tions, say­ing it was one of their driv­ers who was as­saulted dur­ing the stand­off.

At the cen­tre of the fight is which as­so­ci­a­tion has the right to op­er­ate from the Tsholom­nqa taxi rank.

Speak­ing to the Daily Dis­patch yes­ter­day, Bor­der Al­liance taxi driver Zilindile Thiko claimed: “Men from Uncedo and Melta ar­rived at the rank and started fir­ing gun­shots but no one sus­tained gun wounds.”

Thiko ac­cused mem­bers of the two as­so­ci­a­tions of block­ing all rank ex­its and block­ing all Bor­der Al­liance taxi driv­ers from op­er­at­ing.

“They beat us up and took our car keys. Some of us are in­jured be­cause we didn’t ex­pect to be at­tacked.

“We did not re­tal­i­ate as we knew that com­muters would be caught up in the cross­fire had we fought back,” he said.

An­other Bor­der Al­liance taxi driver, Mnce­disi Vakele, said: “They [Uncedo and Melta] started shoot­ing [so] we had no choice but to run for our lives. Four el­derly taxi driv­ers have been in­jured.”

Uncedo Mdantsane East Lon­don clus­ter spokesman Vuyani Mbewu de­nied any claims of vi­o­lence.

“Our mem­bers did not in­cite vi­o­lence on any­one. All I know is that our mem­bers went there to de­fend our routes that were force­fully taken by Bor­der Al­liance,” he said.

Melta spokesman Welile echoed Mbewu’s sen­ti­ments.

“We sent [our] mem­bers to queue for po­si­tions but they were re­fused ac­cess,” said Blayi.

Chair­man of Uncedo/Melta Gabs Mt­shala said: “Ev­ery taxi driver has Blayi the right to move from one taxi as­so­ci­a­tion to the next, but the rank and routes are ours. We want them to move out of our rank.”

While taxi driv­ers said four of their own were ar­rested, po­lice spokes­woman War­rant of­fi­cer Hazel Mqala said “ev­ery­thing is un­der con­trol. No one was ar­rested.” She also said no in­juries were re­ported.

Mdantsane East Lon­don Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion (Meta), a Bor­der Al­liance af­fil­i­ate, said it was will­ing to go back to the board­room and seek an am­i­ca­ble so­lu­tion to the prob­lem.

Meta chair­man Michael Mphunga said: “I am will­ing to sit down and ne­go­ti­ate with Gabs and oth­ers be­cause what is im­por­tant here is for com­muters to be trans­ported.”

Pic­ture: MICHAEL PINYANA

SIM­MER­ING TEN­SIONS: Taxis parked out­side Ebuh­lanti rank in East Lon­don as as­so­ci­a­tions fight for routes

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