Special task force to curb Uber, metered taxi violence


Special task force to curb Uber, metered taxi violence
Taxi war in Pretoria - Image - Die Vryburger

A special provincial task force is to be set up to help deal with the disturbing violence involving metered and Uber taxi drivers, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said on Sunday.

“I’ve discussed this matter with the Ministers of Police [Fikile Mbalula] and Transport [Joe Maswanganyi] basically calling for national government intervention to help us.

“The Minister of Police is going to dedicate a lot of support to this. We will establish a special task force,” the Premier said at a briefing on law enforcement measures relating to violence involving Uber and metered taxi drivers.

He said police in the province have put a lot of effort into the matter.

“We want a dedicated special task force to look at this conflict, especially the use of violence by those who are involved in this. We know that the metered taxi and Uber operators are involved,” said the Premier.

The task force will include intelligence and traffic officers, among others.

Premier Makhura said the escalating violence is disturbing. Since January this year, there have been 294 attacks involving metered taxi and Uber operators. A total 204 of the attacks took place in Tshwane, 86 in Johannesburg and four in Ekurhuleni. One person has lost their life.

A total of 28 people have been arrested in connection with the violence while 166 cases are under investigation.

The Premier, who briefed media at the Gautrain offices in Midrand following his earlier meeting with various law enforcement agencies, said it was worrying that there have not been any prosecutions to date. He said special courts should be considered.

“If this matter continues we can end up having violence where people are recruited to carry out hits… We need a change of gear – violence will not be allowed,” he said.

Compliance with the law

Premier Makhura called on all public transport operators in Gauteng to comply with the laws of the land.

The national Transport Act is currently in the process of being amended to accommodate e-hailing services.

According to the records of the provincial Department of Transport, there are 2099 metered taxi operators. However, only 500 of them are compliant.

“We have others who have applied and the department must make sure that everyone who has applied is helped to get their operating license. We want to clamp down on illegal operators.”

The provincial government has received 2321 applications for licensing from Uber operators. However, too few operators are licensed.

While it is important for the province to know how many operators there are, the province does not want to clamp down on those who are earning an honest income.

“There are those raising income for their families that we understand [given the] unemployment [rate]. Government shouldn’t be unreasonable, we must help them to comply with the regulations.”

He said there would be a high police visibility on the streets going forward.

Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi said that the provincial government will reach out to operators during Transport Month, which is commemorated annually in October.

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