Taxi ranks left deserted as drivers embark on strike in Cape Town

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CAPE TOWN, August 6 – Taxi ranks across the Cape Peninsula were left virtually deserted on Monday as taxi drivers embarked on a strike.

City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, visited the normally bustling taxi rank at Cape Town station with members of the city’s Transport Enforcement Unit (TEU) and said he found very little activity.

“The station was completely deserted with not a single taxi in sight, contrary to the usual station atmosphere saturated by taxis. The TEU based at Bellville and Wynberg stations were also very quiet with only a few taxis operational,” he said.

“We have officers conducting patrols in a number of areas to monitor for any possible disruptions or acts of unrest. There has been one case of taxi intimidation reported. Besides the burning of Golden Arrow buses this morning, it has been relatively quiet.”

SA Police Service spokesman Andre Traut said police were deployed at ranks across the peninsula.

Earlier on Monday, at least two buses were set alight, leaving commuters on parts of the Cape Flats stranded.

Traut said no arrests had been made.

In Tutu Avenue in Khayelitsha’s Makhaza area, a commuter bus was torched just before 5 am. Witnesses said the bus was empty when “someone threw a bomb inside it”.

“We heard a noise and when we got there the bus was already finished. Now people are burning tyres in the street. We are not leaving the house,” said a commuter who lives on Tutu Avenue.

She said two more buses were set alight in Lansdowne Road and in Shushu Crescent in Khayelitsha.

Cape Town fire services confirmed the incident in Shushu Crescent and said a Golden Arrow bus was also torched next to Falsebay College in Lingelethu-West.

No injuries were reported.

Golden Arrow, Cape Town’s main bus operator, said the incidents were affecting its services in Khayelitsha, Delft and Nyanga.

“We have had to suspend services into Delft and Nyanga and are now operating from the outskirts,” the company said in a Facebook post.

The arson coincides with a planned strike by Cape Town minibus taxis over an unsettled dispute relating to the provincial leadership of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco).

Taxi associations have said the strike would continue until a pre-elective conference is held, ahead of the conference to elect a provincial leadership for Santaco that is scheduled for August 14.

– African News Agency (ANA)