A number of taxi drivers in Tshwane who had a rare moment to speak to Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula during a recent one-day taxi shutdown organized by Santaco and Top Six Taxi Management TT in Gauteng did not use such a chance to good use.
Instead, they interjected each other when the Minister tried to give them responses to their various questions – varying from issues with their Toyota Venture loads in Tshwane townships like Mabopane and Soshanguve as well as Garankuwa to SA Taxi and banks threatening to reposess their vehicles.
Others, like the one who asked about the minister’s alleged about-turn on 100% carrying capacity that was discontinued when COVID-19 started, at least got their answers.
“Minister, remember that I was there at Bree rank when you said we shall still be able to work at 100% but now we run at 70%. Why did you change that?,” asked the driver.”
It was your bosses who said ‘no Minister we need to protect lives and help prevent the spread of this virus’ and that is how we looked at things,” Mbalula told the group of those drivers, some of whom appeared drunk while others held their alcoholic beer bottles.One of the drivers given almost over six minutes wanted to know about measures government would take in the event that financial lenders like banks and SA Taxi repossess their vehicles before the situation got out of hands.
“Ok minister we hear you. But tell us: why are police here as well?” asked another one.
“No. I did not come with them. They are here because some people that side have been barricading roads,” responded Mbalula
.It was at this stage that his entourage and Metro police steered him to his car although he appeared to be still exchanging words with the now confrontational crowd of drivers.
Others could be heard challenging a certain officer Baloyi to “shoot us because you’re a sharp shooter” as Mbalula left hurriedly with SANDF and police officers ensuring the situation did not get out of hands.