Western Cape transport MEC Daylin Mitchell on Thursday announced that the B97 minibus taxi route between Mbekweni in Paarl and Bellville will remain closed for another three months.
Earlier this year in July, route B97 was closed after renewed taxi violence between operators affiliated to the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta). The two taxi associations have been at war over control of the lucrative route in Cape Town between Paarl and Bellville.
Mitchell said the extended closure of the route would take effect from Friday.
The MEC said the decision to close the route was made after concerted efforts to stop the violence between Cata and Codeta failed.
“Due to incessant incidents of violence, damage to property and a loss of lives post 2017, emanating from route-related conflict on route B97, I published a notice in terms of section 91 of the National Land Transport Act (Act no. 5 of 2009 setting out proposed actions to stabilise the situation.
“The proposed actions were set out under Notice 416 of 2021 in Government Gazette 44,836 dated 9 July 2021,” Mitchell said on Thursday in a statement.
“These actions included, inter alia, the closure of route B97, the suspension of affected operating licences, the closure of all [taxi] ranks in the Mbekweni area and the closure of certain loading lanes at the Bellville Public Transport Interchange.”
At least 82 people were reportedly killed in the Western Cape since January this year due to taxi-related violence.
The violence prompted government to mediate between Cata and Codeta in a bid to resolve the taxi violence. However, attempts to assist the two associations to find a lasting solution have so far failed.
Mitchell said the violence had continued unabated with more lives being lost.
“These interventions included, inter alia, several mediation efforts, peace conferences, a pre-arbitration agreement in which both agreed to refer the matter to arbitration and to abide by the outcome thereof and a ceasefire agreement.
“Regrettably, shots were also fired at law-enforcement officers during violent protest action. Protestors demanded that the route be opened for taxi operations. The parties have rejected the option of signing a ‘bridging agreement’ so that the route can be reopened,” he said.
Mitchell said additional Golden Arrow bus trips would remain in operation between Bellville and Paarl as part of the provincial government’s transport contingency plan.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe