More than 6500 Eastern Cape people who rely on government’s Mayibuye buses will have to find other means of transport as bus services across the province have been suspended indefinitely.
This comes after talks deadlocked on Friday between taxi bosses and Mayibuye Transport Corporation management over operating routes.
Friday’s meeting came amid rising tensions after taxi operators prevented Mayibuye buses from operating in Reeston and Mdantsane recently.
Taxi associations said the buses had been operating illegally on their routes.
Mayibuye and captains of the taxi industry met last week, hoping to resolve the impasse.
Yesterday Mayibuye Transport Corporation spokeswoman Bongi Solwandle said they were suspending their services.
“What led to the suspension are threats from taxi bosses and because passenger safety is our number one priority, we have suspended operations across the province.
“We are working tirelessly to ensure we reach an amicable solution suitable to all parties so that we can resume operations,” she said.
Solwandle said more than 6500 people would be affected.
Uncedo Service Taxi Association East London spokesman Vuyani Mbewu said: “For the safety and security of Mayibuye buses we asked Mayibuye to suspend their services as of Friday afternoon, after they failed on numerous occasions to produce the documentation we requested in our previous meetings.”
Mbewu said this was a resolution they came up with together with Mayibuye after they could sense the level of frustration rising on the ground.
“Mayibuye is undermining us as taxi operators because they say they are [part of the] government.
“We are not pleased with how they are handling the matter and we do not want a situation where things turn violent and buses are burnt,” he said.
Mbewu said they could not watch their business die in front of their eyes.
“We do not have a problem with the initial agreement and we are not saying Mayibuye should not operate. They play a critical role in assisting where people needed to be transported, especially in remote areas, but we had an agreement about how and where they would operate,” he said.
Mdantsane East London Taxi Association (Melta) chairman Gabs Mtshala said: “We presented the portfolio to Mayibuye representatives and they promised to look into our concerns about how they were operating, but nothing changed.
“When we impounded three buses when they were in a place they were not supposed to be, they sent police instead of coming to talk to us directly.”