15/06/2017 12:32 SAST | Updated 15/06/2017 13:37 SAST

Gauteng Traffic Begins To Clear As Taxi Strike Called Off

Taxi operators make their way to the SA Taxi Finance Holdings while motorists try to either get to work or go back home.

Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images

The transport department said the taxi strike was called off on Thursday.

Although traffic has started clearing on major roads in other parts of the Gauteng province, Midrand residents continue to feel the effects of the strike by members of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco).

Major Midrand roads leading to the N1 highway were opened about an hour before the agreement was announced following the morning's blockade.

An agreement was reached between Santaco and SA Taxi Finance Holdings.

Taxi operators made their way to the SA Taxi Finance Holdings, where they were addressed by Santaco president BJ Mkhonza, before moving to Kempton Park's Emperor's Palace where they were to hand over a memorandum of their grievances to the directors of the company. That march was cancelled.

According to spokesperson Ralph Jones, Santaco members were protesting about escalating minibus taxi purchase costs.

Jones previously told IOL that some of the association's members were hit hard by an interest rate of 28 percent on vehicle finance and blacklisting due to required repayments of R15,000 per month over 72 months.

"We can't take it anymore," he was reported as saying.

As early as 2am, major routes around Midrand were blockaded by taxi operators including the N1 highway.

Schools in the area have closed for the day and parents have been advised to keep their children at home.

MEC for Department of Education in Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, said safety comes first.

Some Midrand motorists accused police of not being proactive.

"We knew [on Tuesday] night there would be a taxi strike. The cops also knew, but the taxi operators still managed to beat them to it. They should have been there waiting to stop them from blocking the roads," said Rhandzu Ndinisa, a resident who could not make it to work due to the strike.

Another resident, Moses Shivambu, said the taxi operators concerns' are valid.

"They are right to protest. I mean 28 percent is just too high. It's now as if they are repaying a personal loan. However, I think their methods are flawed. You cannot bring a province to a standstill just because you are unhappy about the price of a Quantum minibus. Where does the rest of the population come in? It's not our problem. By all means take it up with the relevant people, but let other people carry on with their work," he told HuffPost SA.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Kay Makhubela said his team was working on clearing the major routes in Midrand.

Major routes and on/offramps in the area remain heavily backlogged.

Spar supermarket also remains closed.

The store has put a notice on its door saying it would not operate under normal hours due to the strike.

Photo gallery Gauteng Taxi Strike 2017 See Gallery