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MEC must step in, say angry taxi owners

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The Western Cape Metered Taxi Council has asked the provincial transport department to intervene urgently to quell frustration among taxi drivers it says could end in violence and cripple the industry.

The request, sent to transport and public works MEC Donald Grant on Tuesday, raised a number of frustrations experienced by members of the council.

The metered taxi industry has seen a number of flare-ups in recent months, most relating to drivers disgruntled about the Uber taxi service in the city.

Earlier in 2016, metered taxi drivers and owners slammed local Uber drivers, and said they were concerned that the service’s drivers would continue “stealing bread from our tables”.

Council chairman Aldino Muller said the provincial government was doing little to enforce regulations and was not listening to their concerns.

“The metered taxi industry has been left out of the bus rapid transport systems, introduced to drive improved integrated public transport services.

“Numerous requests to empower the council have fallen on deaf ears, and as a consequence we now have protests relating to this.

“Repeated requests to empower the council have been a total failure,” Muller said.

Consultation

The department’s communications officer, Heinrich Robertson, said Grant had met representativesof the metered taxi industry last week.

“Other matters raised in the request for intervention are still in a process of consultation,” Robertson said.

An adviser to the association, Nathan Momsen, said there were also fears Uber might enter the minibus taxi business, but Uber spokeswoman Samantha Allenberg has denied this.

“It is absolutely not true,” she said. “Our biggest competitor is the car owner. Owning two cars is costly, and we offer a service that allows people to travel at an affordable rate.”

Earlier in June Ayub Baker, owner of one of the province’s largest metered taxi businesses, said the outbreak of violence between metered taxi and Uber partner drivers was the result of the provincial transport department approving too many metered taxi operating licences.

At the end of May there was a protest by metered taxi drivers at the Provincial Regulatory Entity, which controls operating licences in the province.

Baker, also a former chairperson of the Western Cape Metered Taxi Council, was present at the protest and said: “Nobody is making money, and that is why people are fighting.

“We are earning less and that means our drivers are earningless. Winter is the quieter tourism season, so a lot of our cars are unused.”

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