TAXI drivers and passengers were relieved yesterday when operations started again in Soweto.

Gauteng Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo made his first public appearance yesterday since being appointed.

He announced the re-opening of closed routes in the kasi.

Taxi ranks and routes used by Witwatersrand African Taxi Association and the Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association were shut down in March after violent clashes.

Mamabolo said an agreement between the two associations was long overdue.

“The commuters have been through a lot as they have struggled with transport in the last few months. This agreement marks a special moment for the people of Soweto,” he said.

“The two associations have agreed to work peacefully with each other, and will divide everything fairly. There are 200 taxis that will operate from these ranks and on these routes, 100 from each association.”

Aron Majozi of the Witwatersrand Association apologised to commuters.

“We commit ourselves to doing better from now on, and we promise to follow the rules because we’ve had enough of killings.”

Sipho Nkwanyana, a spokesman for United Taxi Associations Front, said the agreement would benefit the entire taxi industry.

Taxi driver Sibusiso Ndala (45) said: “As taximen, we welcome the decision made, but we are worried we will have an influx of passengers when there’s a problem with trains.”

Councillor Zodwa Nxumalo said: “We want unity in our taxi industry, and we hope for an end to the violence that affects innocent commuters.”