SA taxi association label Uber as 'swine flu'

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A dispute over long distance routes could have been behind a Wednesdays deadly shootout at a Durban taxi rank. Three people were killed and three others injured when gunmen opened fire in Brook Street in the city.

JOHANNESBURG – The regulation and legalisation of Uber drivers in the country took centre stage at a taxi indaba in Johannesburg on Thursday as the South African taxi associations described the app-based service as a "swine flu".

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) aired their grievances during the indaba at the Standard Bank Arena where they addressed several of the country’s MEC’s.

Both associations said they were not happy with the way their members were treated, insisting they should’ve been consulted before Uber was allowed to operate in the country.

READ: Shots fired in Sandton Uber protest

"We don’t know if they are one-seater or five-seater," said Alpheus Mlalazi, speaking for the NTA.

He added that they were not happy about their vehicles being impounded recently during a Johannesburg Metro Police operation.

"We know that non-roadworthy taxis should be taken off the road but we say no to the harassment of taxi drivers."

The taxi associations also highlighted the outbreak of violence stemming from a dispute over routes leading to the Mall of Africa, a newly built shopping centre in Midrand, North of Johannesburg. In May, three people were shot and wounded during a shootout outside the mall.

The associations requested that violence and murder cases involving taxi operators in the country should be prioritised.

"They are killed all over and nothing is done," said Mlalazi

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Santaco spokesman Johannes Mkhonza said their members would be holding a march on Monday to highlight their grievances, and planned to hand a memorandum of their concerns to Gauteng Premier David Makhura as well as Ismail Vadi, the province’s Road and Transport MEC Ismail.

Mkhonza called for proper facilities at the country’s taxi ranks, adding they wanted government to involve them if improvement were made.

"New malls don’t have ranking facilities and police come and fine us," Mkhonza said.

The government along with the various taxi associations will be holding a taxi summit in July when it was hoped that all the grievances listed during the indaba would be dealt with in depth.