Urgent interventions needed to tackle Intercape attacks, says WCGov.
The Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde and Mobility MEC, Daylin Mitchell, visited bus operator Intercape’s Cape Town depot on Tuesday, following an attack on an Intercape bus last weekend in which a driver was shot and wounded. The company’s management detailed how extortion rings are targeting long-distance buses - not just in the Western Cape, but in the Eastern Cape too - are becoming increasingly brazen.
‘’These attacks are part of a broader organised criminal pattern. Criminals are trying to intimidate and force legally operating companies to cut their services. The Premier and Minister were told some Eastern Cape routes are effectively no-go zones, while in other areas police escorts – where available – are needed for Intercape buses. In other instances, companies are forced to increase fares to bring them in line with taxi fares while shopping centres and outlets are threatened if they sell long-distance bus ticket.’’
Winde condemned the attacks.
“This is unacceptable. This is anathema to how competitive practices are meant to work in a free market system.
Meanwhile, Mitchell called for an urgent inter-governmental intervention.
‘’The Western Cape Government is already working with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and co-chairs ProvJoints’ Transport Priority Committee to coordinate planning, regulation, and enforcement. An “Extortion SOP” has also been planned to combat these crimes.’’
‘’Provincial Traffic and SAPS Flying Squad will continue to monitor all national routes for rapid response in the event of attacks on buses,’’ said the MEC.
“As the Minister responsible for the regulation of transport in the province, I will not allow a criminal few to hold the entire transport system to ransom. Legal operators have a right to operate long-distance trips and not to be harassed and intimidated by criminals. It is not within my mandate to investigate these crimes, but we have adopted a coordinated approach to support law enforcement in whichever way possible to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to book. The Transport Priority Committee last week met with Intercape attorneys to coordinate how best we can put a stop to attacks on buses. But we cannot do this alone as we need a whole-of-society approach. I have a responsibility to ensure that commuters are transported in safety and in dignity and I will do anything in my power to protect legal operators and the citizens. I have instructed officials to look at the legislation that empowers me to take action against the known perpetrators.”
Premier Winde also met the managing committee of the Joe Gqabi long-distance bus terminus in Phillipi on Tuesday. He was told by long-distance bus operators that they feel excluded from plans to integrate public transport in the city and province. They also outlined their grievances over high vehicle licensing fees. The Premier told the committee, “Further engagements will be planned with the Western Cape Department of Mobility and City of Cape Town to try iron out these issues.” He concluded the meeting by appealing to the committee to ensure that the bus terminus is well run both in the interest of commuters and operators.
Done By: Mitchum George