The department’s spokesperson, Hillary Mophethe, confirms the Department, the management of Interstate Bus Lines (IBL) and leaders of the local taxi industry are today meeting in an effort to quell the tension. Mophethe says a statement will be released once the meeting has ended. IBL, which mainly operates in the Mangaung Metro, was forced to temporarily suspend its services on Tuesday (July 23) after disgruntled taxi drivers brought Bloemfontein’s city centre to a grinding halt, citing the traffic department’s alleged biased treatment as their main reason. The large disgruntled group alleges traffic officials give IBL operators preferential treatment by not conducting roadblocks for the buses and regularly checking permits. It is expected these allegations will come under greater scrutiny during this meeting.
Heidedal taxi driver, Damian Dauds on Tuesday, demands that IBL be phased out. He believes this is the only way to resolve the matter. “The first problem we have with them is they have no permits to drive on the routes like we as taxi drivers have to have permits and route forms,” explains Dauds. He says they stopped a couple of IBL’s buses on Tuesday and found that only one bus had a permit. It’s alleged IBL’s drivers failed to account for the absence of a permit when probed. Dauds asks what kind of permit enables IBL’s buses to travel from Thaba Nchu/Botshabelo to Bloemfontein’s central business district and then pick up passengers in Bloemfontein’s townships. Contrary to threats made by the taxi operators, that they would shut down the Free State capital, the situation in the city is quite calm. While there delays in the morning, many have managed to get to work today.
OLEBOGENG MOTSE / OFM News