Commuters can finally breathe a sigh of relief after rival taxi associations Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (CODETA) and Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) reached an agreement this week.
After several weeks of engagement to quell the violent clashes over the B97 routes between Paarl and Bellville, these association have signed a legally binding agreement to end their fighting and return to operation on Monday August 2.
However, the controversial route in Paarl remains closed for now as there is an arbitration process taking place.
More than 20 people including innocent commuters and taxi operators had been killed while others had been left with scars in this ruthless fight.
Codeta spokesperson, Andile Kanyi confirmed the two associations had reached and agreement, and apologised that innocent lives had been lost in the conflict.
National Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula said over the past few weeks, they had been working closely with the provincial government of the Western Cape to resolve this conflict.
He said they had noted with concern that the conflict over route B97 had had a spill-over effect on other parts of the city.
“We have continued to engage both Cata and Codeta, as well as the provincial leadership of Santaco (South African National Taxi Council) to find a sustainable long-term solution.
“With the initial collapse of the mediation process, the parties have since agreed to arbitration, which is now under way. However, the conversations with the associations have continued.
“He warned that the department won’t hesitate to close the routes if Cata and Codeta breach the agreement. It is important that preserving human life is an overriding imperative that supersedes all else.
“It is our intention to return taxi operations to normality in the shortest possible space of time, with a proviso that the associations that are party to this violence take responsibility for ensuring responsible conduct on the part of their members,” he said.
Mr Mbalula said through these ongoing discussions with the affected associations, a number of options had been placed before them by government.
He said when route B97 is opened, only legal operating licence holders will be allowed to serve the full route from the authorised ranks and terminals.
But should there be further acts of violence, all affected routes operated by the two associations will be closed for all minibus-taxi operations for a period determined by the MEC and affected operating licences will be suspended.
In addition, he said, both associations would be suspended or deregistered in the interest of public safety and other operators would be authorised to provide replacement services.
Cata spokeperson, Mandla Hermanus, said they were happy that the violence had come to an end and that their taxis had returned to full operation. He also apologised to the public and commuters for the violence.