Johannesburg – Three cars were torched in Sandton, Johannesburg on Thursday in the latest clash between drivers with ride-hailing service Uber and traditional cabbies.
“Three cars were set alight,” police spokesman Mavela Masondo told AFP, adding that two of the vehicle were believed to belong to Uber drivers while one was owned by a cab driver.
A fourth car had its windows smashed in the confrontations in the Sandton area. No injuries were reported. Uber spokeswoman Samantha Allenberg confirmed that one of the cars was registered to use the Uber app.
AFP reporters saw shells of the burnt vehicles, two just metres from a train station and another one in front of a five-star hotel in the wealthy financial district of Johannesburg.
“We suspect it is the ongoing fight between Uber and metred taxis in the area,” said Masondo. He denied local media reports that police fired stun grenades to disperse groups of rival drivers.
Taxi drivers have regularly targeted Uber drivers in Johannesburg where they compete for passengers. They accuse Uber of stealing business and competing unfairly due to low fares.
The Uber car-hailing app service is hugely popular in the city where public transport is poor and taxi drivers previously enjoyed a monopoly.
Transport Minister responds
The Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi, denounced acts of violence, torching of operators vehicles and intimidation between the Meter Taxi Operators and the E-Hailing Partners that took place at Sandton.
The transport department said: “Maswanganyi reminds all operators of the agreement between government and the both operators which took place at the 10111 Command Centre in Midrand on the 27th July 2017.
“The meeting agreed that the National Land Transport Act of 2009 (NLTA) is the primary piece of legislation that makes provision for the regulation of road-based public transport. The Act forms the basis to resolve the challenges confronting the industry. During the meeting, all parties agreed to uphold and act within the provisions of the Act.”
Section 50 of the National Land Transport Act states that, “No person may operate a road-based public transport service, unless he or she is the holder of a legal operating license or a permit”. “This means that anyone who operates a public transport service for reward without an Operating License will be violating the law,” Minister Maswanganyi said.
The Minister said that an operating license may only be issued to and held by the person registered, in terms of the National Road Traffic Act, as the owner or operator of the vehicle, as defined in the Act, and specified in the operating license.
Maswanganyi said: “What should also be considered by all the operators is that the Act makes provision that all the vehicles that provide road-based public transport must have sign-age that identifies them as a provider of public transport service. This is also a requirement that is provided in the National Land Transport Act.
“Perpetrators of violence and intimidation will be immediately dealt with in terms of the applicable laws. We call upon members of the public to be vigilant and report any acts of lawlessness, perceived or real, to the nearest Police Station or to report such incidences by calling the 0860010111 number”.