The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) has learned through media reports about the closure of six (6) taxi routes and ranks in Soweto for the next three (3) months. The Gauteng Transport MEC- Ismail Vadi- is commended for taking this decision as it will assist in mitigating the spate of violence between the two associations NANDUWE (Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association) and WATA (Witwatersrand African Taxi Association). The union condemns territorial disputes that result in death of people and injury of commuters. We hope that an amicable solution through the current negotiation process will resolve existing violence and tensions of the two associations.
As a backbone of the economy, SATAWU is equally worried about the negative impact that the closure will have on the township economy in general and working class-poor- commuters in particular. Adding to their frustrations is the closure of the M2, load shedding and constant rains which contribute to road congestion and other social challenges. Commuters have been most affected by these developments. The late arrival at work leads to the violation of their contractual obligations and to negate this, they are forced to leave their home an hour or two earlier. Swallowed in darkness and silence their morning walk subjects them to a web of violence ranging from mugging to the sexual violation of women. Going home is a similar nightmare they were subjected to in the morning. These conditions lead to the unconscious mechanisation of human beings and collapse of family structures. As a countermovement to this mechanisation, the youth in working class communities resort to vices that reproduce their exploitation through factors such as violence in schools, alcohol and drug abuse.
The non-regulation and violence associated with the taxi industry adds to the structural oppression that constantly dehumanises the working poor. SATAWU calls on government to regulate the taxi industry. We further call on government to speed up the process of an integrated public transport system that will be safe, reliable and affordable. The ease of commute allows for access to opportunities ranging from work, education, sport and recreation. By addressing general transport challenges including the case of NANDUWE and WATA is also one of the most critical factors needed for the rehabilitation exploitative social relations. Accordingly, public transport should not solely be seen as a mode of commute but its class and social relations must be understood as a dimension of subordination requiring immediate governmental intervention.
For more details and media interviews contact:
Jack Mazibuko, SATAWU General Secretary, 011 403 2077