The Sydenham Taxi Owners Association has lifted the brakes on allegations of intimidation and harassment by users and operators of email taxi services in the region.
Social media has been abuzz with posts from commuters recounting their experiences of alleged harassment by taxi operators, who belong to the local taxi association.
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Speaking on condition of anonymity, an owner and driver of Bolt, who has reportedly been the victim of harassment by the association, said he was considering ceasing operations in the area. âI have been a Sydenham resident for 18 years and never thought I would be harassed by the taxi association I supported. We are constantly harassed by the Taxi Association as we try to make a decent living in Sydenham and the surrounding area. These guys think they own these areas. We have greedy pigs, who want us to be unsuccessful because we don’t have to pay filing fees because electronic appeal is an electronic service. Why are we not allowed to earn money in our community? ” He asked.
Another Sydenham commuter claimed to have seen her driver harassed by Sydenham taxi drivers. She tried to intervene but her efforts did not amount to much.
âI refuse to be intimidated by the Sydenham Taxi Association. I use bolt every day to come home from work because it is my preference. I have the freedom of choice and I will never choose a Sydenham taxi, âshe said.
The executive member of the Sydenham Taxi Owners Association, Vilesh Debba, however, refuted these claims.
âWe have contacted community members via Facebook who say they have been harassed by our members, but to date no one has come forward so that we can resolve the issues. I can’t say there has never been bullying, but what I do know is that our procedure is to speak to a driver and ask him questions about his license to operate. If they do not have the operating permit, we ask them to leave our area, âhe explained.
Debba said the bone of contention is that email drivers do not have the required license to operate in the area.
âWe approached the eThekwini Transport Authority (ETA) and the Minister of Transport about this, but we received no help. Yo Taxi, which was formed by 10 surrounding taxi associations in Durban Central, as well as metered taxis, have these permits. We operate legally. Taxi drivers need a permit. When they do not have these permits, it means that they are operating illegally, âhe added. Speaking about the alleged lack of enforcement by law enforcement officials, another executive member of the association, Lewis James, said he saw no help from authorities.
âWe investigated and found that 90% of these electronic call vehicles are owned by Metro and SAPS members. So we can’t expect the enforcement of this law to come from them, because they also have their fingers in the cake, âsaid James.
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The commander of Sydenham SAPS station, Col. Ruth De Villiers, has confirmed that cases of intimidation have been opened at the station.
“There have been a couple of incidents where these operators have been intimidated. They are under investigation and so I am not free to discuss the cases, âCol De Villiers said.
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