Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has called for peace in the Eastern Cape public transportation industry.
Mbalula, who was addressing various taxi associations in the province on Friday, called for tolerance and unity among operators.
Accompanied by Eastern Cape Safety MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe, Mbalula met with officials from the Border Alliance, Uncedo Taxi Association, Santaco, Prasa, Autopax, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) and Eastern Cape Small Bus Operators.
Issues raised during the meeting included allegations of unfair competition in the public transportation sector as well as route controls. The meeting was part of the minister’s intervention in the wake of violent clashes that resulted in the murder of an Autopax employee and industrial strike action.
“Disagreements will arise from time to time, that is understandable. What is unacceptable is the phenomenon of resolving conflict through the barrel of a gun.
“Protests are welcome but the destruction of infrastructure or economic sabotage is intolerable,” said Mbalula.
He described the meeting as a watershed, adding it would lead to broader discussions going forward, where the future of the taxi industry and integrated transport system would be addressed.
“We must begin to talk to each other and not past each other. The taxi industry is growing and as it grows so does its challenges. We will not resolve conflict by killing each other. We call on officials to urgently compile an agreement that will assist in maintaining peace,” he said.
Mbalula also pledged to return to the Eastern Cape to assess progress made in the peace process.