The United National Transport Union (UNTU) condemns the ongoing taxi-violence in the Western Cape which is having a devastating impact on the economy and the lives of workers, preventing them from earning a living in these exceedingly difficult times.
“Irrespective of the underlying issues there might be, the timing of the taxi violence could not have been worse. Workers cannot afford to miss out on the possibility to earn money even if it is only for a day. It is workers and the families who are dependent on the income who are bearing the brunt of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the looting last week in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal and now again this violence in the Western Cape,” says Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU.
Last week a protection officer of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) was killed in the crossfire between taxi drivers.
On Monday 19 July shots were fired on a combi of Prasa who had to pick-up employees for work in Langa. UNTU represents the majority of Prasa employees. They are struggling to get to work which has a knock-on impact affecting Metrorail’s train services.
According to Harris, UNTU informed Prasa that it is too dangerous to even allow employees to be escorted to work by officers of the South African Police Service (SAPS) because even the police are fired at.
“As we saw with the looting, there is a very disturbing element of lawlessness and criminality that is coming to the forefront. When criminals exploit these situations, the focus is shifted from the real causes of the disputes and unrest rendering it meaningless. All parties in all industries and communities should be mindful of this new tendency and not allow situations to escalate beyond control,” says Harris.
It is already predicted that South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP), one of the main indicators used to measure the performance of a country’s economy, could be 0.4 percentage points lower this year due to the looting last week. Another 50 000 plus jobs are at risk.
“South Africans cannot afford taxi associations fighting over control of routes. Workers cannot afford to be stranded at home. This will only lead to more hunger, poverty and inequality in our society,” says Harris.
UNTU once again appeals to President Cyril Ramaphosa and Police Minister Bheki Cele to explain to South African’s why there is an absence of adequate law enforcement in the transport sector, specifically in the rail, trucks, and taxi environments.
“President Ramaphosa is failing in his duty to hold Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula accountable for the negative impact on the South African economy to due the ongoing disruptions in the various sectors of the transport industry,” says Harris.