The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) payment of social grants in the Eastern Cape for Wednesday, 19 September 2018 has been suspended due to a planned provincial taxi strike. The Grahamstown (Makhanda) branch of the Border Alliance Taxi Association have indicated they will support tomorrow’s action and will not be running transport. However, the other major taxi association in Grahamstown, Uncedo, say they will be operating as normal.
In a media statement, Sassa said the South African Police Service had advised Sassa and its payment partner South African Post Office (SAPO) not to proceed with the social grant payments Wednesday 19 September, as their (SAPS) personnel would be stretched keeping an eye on the taxi strike across the region.
All payments scheduled for 19 September would will be shifted to 20 September and payments set for Thursday 20 September would be shifted to 21 September 2018.
Grocott’s Mail spoke to the two main local taxi associations, BATA and Uncedo after The Eastern Cape Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison issued a media release calling on commuters to make alternative transport arrangements for Wednesday 19 September following reports of an imminent strike by the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) across the province.
Grocott’s Mail was referred to Santaco’s national office by the person answering the number given on the organisation’s website for the region. Attempts to reach them by phone for direct confirmation have been unsuccessful; however the Dispatch reports that reasons for tomorrow’s action are that the Department of Transport in the province is discontinuing scholar transport contracts; that MEC for Transport Wezile Tikana had not engaged with them constructively and because of the fuel price increases.
“The reported strike by Santaco is undesirable and is likely to have a negative impact on both government and the private sector,” the Department said in their media release. “It is important to note that the department has on numerous occasions sat down with the leadership of Santaco to discuss the challenge of constant fuel hikes with respect to Scholar Transport operators. We recognise that the cry as a legitimate one, however due to budgetary constraints, our hands are tied.”
It is not clear what the impact of the planned strike is likely to be in Grahamstown (Makhanda). BATA’s local branch spokesperson Xolile Jela said the association would definitely be withholding services tomorrow.
Uncedo chairperson Monde Sandi said their taxis would definitely be operating. He said he did not foresee any potential problems as a result of one taxi association being on strike and the other operational.
* Updated Tuesday 18 September at 4.15pm.