Guns are out ready for war. These were the words of some worried taxi operators in Sterkspruit as Uncendo Service Taxi Association is coming closer to their territory. Owners and taxi drivers are having sleepless nights as the most biggest taxi association in the Eastern Cape is threating to invade and ambush routes that currently belong to local taxi operators. Sterkspruit people came to stand still on Friday as owners and taxi operators submitted their memorandum to the local police station. Furious and fuming Sterkspruit owners said they will fight with everything in their power if anyone is threatening to take away their routes.
Local people are living with fear as it is known that taxi violence normally get out of control and innocent lives are often wasted. This is a second round of attempt where Uncedo Service Taxi Association want to take over and control Sterkspruit routes. During 1980s there was a fierce battle between Uncedo Services Taxi Association and a Sterkspruit local Taxi Association where many people were shot dad and others were reported missing. People of Sterkspruit will never forget the brutal death of Wayjija from Mcacuma who was shot dad by unknown gunman. Whilst others lost their lives many lost their taxis as other group used a strategy of high jacking their opponents taxis as they fear for rife competition.
Uncedo Service Taxi Association over the past 30 years has made inroads in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape areas without tough completion from its rivals. It is the biggest and most feared taxi association in the Eastern Cape. This taxi association is based in Port Elizabeth. Recently it has just made its presence felt in Mthatha and Kokstad areas. Sterkspruit is the last territory that it has put its eyes on. Once it get started it will not be easy to remove it and this can only means that people of Sterkspruit will have to live with it fighting a losing battle or simply just join it and save lives whilst making less profit than before because the slice has to be shared now and this is what many small and local taxi association don’t want to do.
In Sterkspruit there is an old taxi operators association known as Herschel United Taxi Association which was formed in the early 80s and gained its momentum when it pushed away Uncedo Service Taxi Association and other taxi association based in Johannesburg. Sterkspruit taxi owners called a unity among themselves and won both battles of taxis from Johannesburg and Uncedo. Because of this unity and togetherness Sterkspruit taxi owners have survived against all odds even Uncedo didn’t shake them during the 1980s taxi violence here in Sterkspruit.
Today no one knows whether Stekspruit people are still united or they are divided. If they are United as they were 40 years ago I don’t see how Uncedo can penetrate Sterkspruit routes but if they are divided they will be inviting problems for themselves because a slight chance that Uncedo get will use it effectively to their advantage and HUTA will be no more. What about commuters? This is a very serious and sensitive issue because innocent people get killed for no good reasons when taxi violence has started. The truth is that taxi violence in Sterkspruit is eminent and there are many people who will be caught in the cross fire and stray bullets. In the Mthatha area there are already 39 people who are reported dad due to taxi violence that took three months.
People are afraid as their streets will be a turf for war with defenceless local commuters dying for something that they don’t know and have no say to it. Leaders of Uncedo Service Taxi Association and Herschel United Taxi Association can cub this blood-shed through engaging to talks with one another. This will be a clever move as there will be no blood-shed instant both taxi associations can benefit from engaging to talks. However this is not an easy thing to do but is necessary to save lives of Stekspruit commuters and taxi owners even taxi operators. The past experience has shown us that police are unable to manage and control taxi violence once it get underway. The best option is to stop it from happening. It is a sad truth though that Uncedo is very hungry for Sterkspruit routes which it fought for many years and the local taxi association HUTA won’t give-up their routes without a fight. Government intervention is needed to secure streets and let commuters move free without fear for their lives. Uncedo will be using
the available chance of Avanzas because they are said to be problematic with HUTA. This will be an unfair competition because owners of Avanza have long seeking for a home. This move will worsened the already volatile situation because Avanzas sweep the street of Sterkspruit particularly the two main routes of Alwal North and Bloemfontein.
Taxi industry is black-owned and black managed since its inception in the late 70s and early 80s many black business owners ventured into this industry. Millions of rands government has spent to improve taxi industry and train operators so that their services can be improved. Today the industry of transportation is very saturated with buses, taxis, Avanzas and private cars.