The Gauteng provincial authorities are going to clamp down on non-compliant Uber and metered taxi operators in an attempt to quell the “territorial warfare” between Uber and metered taxi driver.
Premier David Makhura, MEC for Roads and Transport Ismail Vadi, MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane and MEC for Finance Barbara Creecy, on Sunday met law enforcement agencies to discuss interventions to put an end to the ongoing violence between Uber and metered taxi drivers.
“Over the last few weeks there has been a huge escalation of violence between Uber and metered taxi drivers which has reached proportions that seek to threaten peace and stability in the province. It is for this reason that we felt the need to convene this meeting with law enforcement agencies that include traffic officers, police, SAPS commanders as well as state security,” said Makhura according to a statement from the Gauteng provincial government.
According to the statement, the “territorial warfare” between the two public transport operators is currently very volatile as over 300 sporadic incidents of violence have been reported across Gauteng.
Tshwane seems hardest hit, with 204 incidents reported, while Johannesburg had 86 and Ekurhuleni 4.
The types of crimes that have been committed include murder, attempted murder, arson, assault, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, theft, robbery, hijacking of vehicles and verbal intimidation.
Makhura is concerned about the low number of arrests with over 194 cases reported and only 28 suspects arrested.
The metered taxi service is regulated by Section 66 of the National Land Transport Act 2009, the act is currently being amended to accommodate e-hailing services such as Uber.
In the interim, the closest form of legislated and regulated public transport for Uber is that of a metered taxi service, which will legitimise their operations in the province and place them on an equally regulated footing with other public transport operators.
Between May 2016 and July 2017, the Department received a total of 2 321 applications for Operating Licences from Uber partner drivers. Of these 624 have been approved and a further 209 are pending approval.
“We will work closely with national [government] to come up with a multi-sectoral intervention that will be rolled out in the entire province to bring this violence to an end and ensure no additional lives are lost,” said Makhuru.
A special police task force will be established to bring the situation under control and Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula has committed to support the province in this regard, said Makhuru.
“In the meantime I would like to urge all law enforcement agencies to impound those operators that are engaged in acts of violence; where life and limb are threatened we will not sit back. We will work tirelessly to end the violence,” said Makhuru.
All operators of public transport operators should comply, this is in an effort to clamp down on illegal operators, he said.
To date a total of 66 vehicles have been impounded, 43 of these were Uber, 8 metered taxis and 15 minibus taxis.
Police visibility has been increased in Tshwane, at OR Tambo International Airport and Sandton, the identified hotspots for taxi-violence.