Metered taxi drivers continuously intimidate Uber taxi drivers outside the Park Gautrain station.
UBER drivers used by Wits University students to travel from the main campus to the Park Gautrain stop are increasingly finding themselves under threat from rival metered-taxi drivers.
Wits students, Xabiso Mzimela and Refilwe Rangata, both regular Uber commuters, say they have witnessed multiple incidents of attacks on and or intimidation of their drivers.
The students say that they have to be dropped off earlier than the Park Gautrain stop or agree to use alternative routes to ensure the safety of their drivers. Geography honours student Mzimela said that she has had to walk to the garage nearby the drop off zone at the Park Gautrain station just to avoid the metered-taxi drivers.
According to Rangata, a law student, in one incident, “there were three guys trying to block him (the Uber driver) from getting in and they were hitting his car”.
Uber driver, Samuel Ndlozi*, has been a victim of this. He said he had started cancelling rides to the Park Gautrain station because he feared for his life and did not want to get his car damaged.
According to Ndlozi, the guards at the drop off zone don’t intervene when an incident like this happens. Ndlozi said that the Park Gautrain station is not the only place they are harassed. He has had encounters in the Johannesburg CBD and the petrol garage near Newtown Junction.
According to Ndlozi, in most cases the metered-taxi drivers get violent and scare both the passengers and Uber drivers. Gautrain communications officer Ingrid Jensen told Wits Vuvuzela that Gautrain acknowledges that there has been taxi intimidation outside the stations.
However, there is nothing they can do as they have “no jurisdiction” outside the station. Jensen also encouraged both Uber drivers and passengers to report such cases to the South African Police Services (SAPS). Ndlozi said he has had to rely on the Metro police when he is driving in the area. He says he has made the Uber authorities aware of the situation but nothing has been done yet.
*Not his real name