B97 road closed again as arbitration process continues
CATA taxis at the Bellville taxi rank. PHOTO: Mzwanele Mkalipi
The B97 road has been closed for an additional three months, Provincial Transportation and Public Works Minister Daylin Mitchell said in a statement Thursday, November 25.
He said the B97 minibus taxi line between Mbekweni in Paarl and Bellville will be closed again from Friday, November 26. The route was closed following violence between members of the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) and Democratic Taxi Association Congress (Codeta) in July.
“I made the decision to extend the road closure after the failed concerted effort to stop the violence between CATA and Codeta affiliated operators,” Mitchell said.
He said that due to incessant incidents of violence, property damage and loss of life after 2017 resulting from a conflict related to the B97 road, he issued a notice in terms of national land transport law setting out the actions proposed to stabilize the situation.
âThe proposed actions were set out in Notice 416 of 2021 in Government Gazette 44836 of July 9, 2021. These actions included, among others, the closure of the B97 road, the suspension of affected operating licenses, the closure of all ranks in the Mbekweni area and the closure of some loading lanes at the Bellville public transport interchange, âhe said.
Mitchell said the decisions were made after a series of efforts by regulators to resolve the deadlock between the parties involved failed.
He said the violence continued unabated and more lives were lost.
“These interventions included, among other things, several mediation efforts, peace conferences, a pre-arbitration agreement in which the two agreed to refer the matter to arbitration and comply with the results thereof and to a ceasefire agreement. ” he stated.
CATA spokesperson Mandla Hermanus said that as an organization they welcome the decision to extend the road closure.
âIt would be impossible to reopen this road when the arbitration process is not finalized because it would lead to new tensions between CATA and Codeta. We hope this will be the last extra time as refereeing is in its final stages, âsaid Hermanus.
He said they were urging law enforcement to ensure the closure does not affect other operations such as long-distance operations as the holiday season approaches.
Codeta spokesman Andile Khanyi declined to comment, citing that they had not received an official statement on the matter.
âWe heard it in the media, but the provincial minister did not formally inform us of his decision.
âIt’s hard to respond to something you hear outside. We will only respond when the minister officially informs us, âKhanyi said.