Protesting metered taxi drivers are calling on government officials, including Gauteng Transport MEC Ismail Vadi, to address them as they gather at the country’s busiest port of entry - OR Tambo International Airport.
The drivers embarked on an illegal demonstration on Friday morning, obstructing peak-hour traffic on the R21 and R24 highways, in protest against the presence of cab hailing service Uber.
A large number of metered taxi drivers left their vehicles on the side of the highways and followed police to the location where they were due to be addressed.
Traffic on many roads leading in and out of the airport was still affected even after the drivers reached OR Tambo, with some impatient motorists making U-turns.
Protester Stan Lebepe says they have no option but to inconvenience motorists to get government’s attention.
“We want this to affect everybody so that everybody can see and so that we can talk to the minister, so that the minister can do what we’re asking her to do. We’re not fighting.”
The Tshwane Metered Taxi Council’s Daniel Segwale says they hope they will finally have governments attention about their grievances over Uber.
“At the end of the day we want the airport and the Uber people and even the Minister of Transport to hear us. We’ve been trying to engage with everyone.”
Driver David Kekana says they are fed-up with government ignoring their genuine frustrations with Uber drivers not being regulated.
“We’re ready for any action from our government but what we need is to stop Uber, that’s the mandate.”
Protesters have vowed to continue with their demonstration, until a government representative clarifies how Uber will be dealt with.
At the same time, Uber drivers are protesting at the company’s head office in Parktown. The police have negotiated with the drivers to open 7th avenue in Parktown North.
They say they are being attacked by metered taxi drivers, while Uber does nothing to allay their security fears.
About 50 Uber taxi drivers have gathered outside the company head offices here in Parktown North, wearing t-shirts which read “The Movement #UberdriversSA”.
The drivers say they have come to speak to management but the offices are locked and guarded by armed security.
One of the drivers says he doesn’t understand why management refuses to address them.
“Security have rifles but you’re calling us partners. We’re partners, we’re supposed to be coming to talk to you but you’re not talking to us. You putting security to make sure that we don’t even come and talk to you.”
The drivers say they have agreed with the police that they will wait outside the offices until management arrives.