THE Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works, Daylin Mitchell, has closed Route B97 between Paarl and Bellville.

Mitchell said he closed the route in terms of Section 91 (2) of the National Land Transport Act of 2009.

“This will effective from Monday 26 July 2021. My decision follows the publication of my notice in the Government Gazette dated 9 July that Bellville and Paarl are areas in respect of which extraordinary measures in terms of Section 91 may be made. I have carefully considered all submissions in this respect and after consultation with the SAPS, the premier and the National Minister of Transport believe this to be the correct course of action,” said Mitchell.

He said they could no longer be held hostage by a a few criminals who continue to undermine the interest of the many law-abiding taxi drivers and threaten both the lives and livelihoods of the residents.

“I’ve sworn an oath to act in the best interest of our people, and I will continue to do so using every mechanism available to me,” he said.

There have been 83 taxi-related murders and 56 taxi-related attempted murders in the province since the start of the year.

CATA spokesman, Mandla Hermanus, said they were disappointed it had to come to a point where a route had to be closed by the government.

“It means we, as the taxi industry, have failed the people who rely on our services for their daily commute.”

He said they were committed to finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Andile Khanyi, spokesman from CODETA, said in they had already closed their taxi ranks in Khayelitsha after people died.

“Our government knows our grievances but didn’t make a decision. Between these associations, one is wrong and one is right but in our government, both national and provincial, no one wants to say who is wrong.”

Khanyi said the conflict in Paarl was created by the government after it registered an association while there was already an existing association.

“National government let us down because they are the ones who should resolve this because they caused it.”

A resident said the decision was long overdue.

“Maybe after this decision, they will make peace because we need taxis in our communities.”