Western Cape Transport MEC Donald Grant has threatened to shut down Cape Town taxi ranks hit by recent violence and has asked Transport Minister Blade Nzimande to help resolve the war over routes.
"MEC Grant has requested a meeting with Minister Nzimande to discuss the matter. We are awaiting a response," said Grant's spokesperson Siphesihle Dube said.
In a notice published in the Government Gazette on May 22, Grant stated: "It is our view that the situation in Delft has deteriorated to such an extent that the safety of passengers can no longer be guaranteed."
Regarding the gazette, Grant gave notice that he has powers in terms of Section 91 of the National Land Transport Act.
The notice reads: "After consultation with the relevant planning authority (in this case the City of Cape Town), I have decided to declare the Delft area as high-risk in respect of taxi violence. I am hereby giving notice of my intention to take one or more or all of the actions listed below:
"To close all ranks and routes in the declared area for the operation of any type of minibus-taxi type service for the period stated in the notice;
"To suspend all operating licences and permits authorising minibus-taxi type services on the closed routes and ranks in the declared area for the relevant period;
"To instruct that no person may undertake any minibus-taxi type services to and from the declared area or in terms of an operating licence or permit that has been suspended; and to allow other operators, who need not be the holders of operating licences/permits for the affected routes/area currently, to come in and provide the services in the interim period until the situation returns to normal."
The "Intention to institute extraordinary measures" notice is aimed at preventing further violence and death, he explained in the gazette.
He explained that some 650 000 people live in Delft, which borders Khayelitsha, and as growth has increased rapidly, so has demand for transport and competition over passengers and routes.
Despite mediation over the past five years, some route associations were allegedly still monopolising routes there, the notice states.
The area had also attracted a "significant amount" of illegal operators, adding to the conflict.
Conflict includes disagreements between associations over control of the Delft-Epping route, the introduction of the unregistered Delft Unity Taxi Association, conflict between CATA Seawater Taxi Association and Delft-Cape Town Taxi Association, as well as conflict on the Delft to Claremont/Wynberg routes.
Grant noted that the Office of the Registrar had received several reports indicating violations of the Code of Conduct and Standard Constitution for minibus-taxi operators; contraventions of operating licence conditions and other legal prescripts and a "general disregard for the rule of law" by minibus-taxi associations and members.
The last straw was the killing of two taxi drivers in the Leiden area on May 11 and the gunning down of the chairperson of the Delft-Cape Town Taxi Association near the Roosendal Taxi Rank.
Grant also wants the police to declare the area at a "high risk" of taxi violence.
The police have not confirmed to News24 the number of people killed in taxi violence, but spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk said they were monitoring the situation and investigating the shootings.
Grant's proposed closure would last for two months and, while the routes are closed, permits will also be suspended.
Temporary operating licences will be made available to other transporters who can provide services in the interim.
Comments closed last Friday and Dube said Grant had not made a decision on the closure yet.
'Mediation has been a successful tool'
The Western Cape's Department of Transport and Public Works has also appointed an independent mediator to address the issues resulting in conflict in Delft.
"In the past, mediation has been a successful tool used by this department to address some of the issues in the minibus taxi industry here in the Western Cape," said Dube.
Comment from Nzimande's office was not immediately available.
In the meantime, closed hearings were also underway at the Registrar's office at the Provincial Regulatory Entity (PRE) on Tuesday to assess the conduct of associations, Dube said.
"They are to determine if any association or its members have acted in contravention of their code of conduct. If the Registrar finds that to have been the case, in relation to the conflict in Delft currently, then this may lead to their suspension or deregistration," he explained.
"The comments will then be considered together with the outcome of the Section 7 A (20), of the Western Cape Road Transportation Act Amendment Law, hearings that are currently underway. These hearings began yesterday, and are convened by the Registrar."
Comment from the SA National Taxi Council was not immediately available, but the African National Congress, the SA National Civics Organisation and the SA Communist Party issued a statement on Tuesday to say that CATA and CODETA had reached a "peace accord" which was welcomed.
"It is our belief that violence is not a solution to the differences and interests of the taxi industry because violence puts lives of passengers and other road users at risk," the joint statement said.
"The alliance calls on the taxi associations involved on this matter, the entire taxi industry in the region to stop fighting. They should rather resolve their differences through negotiations because bullets and violence are not a solution."