Hout Bay taxi shortage a crisis

Hout Bay’s ongoing taxi saga has seen many commuters clinging onto their jobs as they continue to battle to get to work.

The Provincial Taxi Registrar suspended the operating licences of the Congress of Democratic Taxi Association (CODETA) and the Cape
Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) earlier this year, the two taxi associations believed to be fighting over control of routes through Hout Bay.

In March this year, the area became somewhat of a mini war zone, with drivers being shot and killed, roads
being blocked and several shots fired in the area (“Taxi mayhem in Hout Bay”, Sentinel News, March 29).

Malicka Kleinhans from Hangberg is a single mother of three who says it has become “a battle” getting to work due to the shortage of taxis.

“I have been leaving earlier, but there are always more and more people waiting for a taxi. “There have been no provisions made, like extra bus or train services, and it’s becoming worse,” she said, clearly frustrated.

MsKleinhans, who starts her shift in the CBD at 8am, said she arrives at work every
day around 8.30am and has already been hauled over the coals by her employers.

“I have to work to support my children. I have to drop them at school and then my day starts, or should I say my challenges,” she said, adding that she has been forced to work extra hours to make up for lost time.

It impacts so much. I have to make arrangements for my children. I have to find a taxi leaving in time so that I can get home at a decent hour. It’s just chaos right now,” she added.

Another Hangberg resident, Joseph Isaacs, said the ongoing taxi struggles have forced people to consider alternative transport solutions.

“I was in this very area when there were shots fired and these drivers really do not care about the commuters’ lives. They shoot at each other with people inside their taxis. We can understand their struggle and their fight, but it should not be at the expense of our lives as we go out there to support our families,” Mr Isaacs said.

He is, however, frustrated that no alternative solutions were made for the commuters after licences were suspended.

“I do not think that when this decision was made, the commuters were considered because they added no buses or trains, it remained the same and people had to fight to get onto that bus or train to get to work on time.

“I am sure there were many people who arrived late and I am even more sure that there are people fighting to keep their jobs because of this,” a worried Mr Isaacs said.

But ward councillor Roberto Quintas confirmed that the City of Cape Town increased the number of MyCiTi bus services in the area and received “little to no complaints” during this time.

He has, however, been receiving complaints from taxi bosses wanting to operate their taxi services
again.

“It took us a little while to get the timing right and numbers because ultimately, everyone seems to want to queue and stand and catch a bus like at one particular time and as a result, it caused some very very full to capacity buses,” Mr Quintas said.

“But we eventually managed to get the balance right as the City sent consecutive buses to operate on the route.”

Mr Quintas also confirmed that the Hout Bay Wynberg Taxi
Association, along with another 20 or so licensed and legal operators, continued on the route and were still able to operate during this time.

“The City has been very proactive in addressing the situation and very responsive. We have to wait for the suspension to be lifted in September by the national government,” he added.

The City’s Mayco member for transport, Felicity Purchase, explained that operating licences were suspended, but “only the taxi associations were administratively suspended”.

“This meant that they cannot transact with the Provincial
Regulatory Entity (PRE) until the suspension has been lifted or comes to an end,” she said, confirming
that mini-bus taxi operators with legal operating licences still continue to operate in the area and there has been no further development in the matter.

Qieyaam Petersen from the Two Oceans Taxi Association
(TOTA) shared the sentiments of commuters and at the same time, said the suspension has placed many drivers still operating under pressure.

“A decision has not been taken and there are no updates in this matter. We are currently still waiting to be called to a meeting, but I fully agree with commuters, as contingency plans should have been put in place,” he said.

“There is currently a huge problem in the area, but we have to wait on the meeting and commuters put us under pressure every day.”

Mr Petersen was also frustrated at the City for “shoving the blame on somebody else” as Ms
Purchase claimed that the matter was
currently sitting with the Minister of Transport, as they had intervened at the time of the violence in Hout
Bay.

“How can the national department make a decision on something happening within your province? This is a provincial matter that needs to be addressed and we are even struggling to get a response on this issue,” Mr Hendricks said.

“The City must stop shifting the blame and they must start coming up with solutions.”

Confirming that there have been no further violence relating to taxis in the Hout Bay area, Ms Purchase said: “The City is awaiting feedback from the national Minister of
Transport on how the industry proposes the matter to be addressed.”

Members of the Codeta and
Cata taxi associations were unavailable to comment on the matter at the time of going to print.