THE Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Bay taxi operators will continue talks this week in a bid to end a feud which saw intimidation at the university’s contracted shuttle buses.
Students were forced out of the buses by angry taxi drivers last week.
Students and shuttle operators alike watched in disbelief on Thursday as taxi drivers pounced on them as students boarded buses to the various university campuses.
Taxi operators forcefully removed students from the contracted Blunden buses – recently added to cater to the increased need for student transport – because they claimed the free service was taking away their livelihood.
Second-year logistics student Lebo Nakeli said he had been waiting for the shuttle to the Second Avenue campus at the Xanadu residence bus stop when the drama unfolded.
"As the buses were loading, taxi guys rocked up and refused students entry into the buses,” he said. "Those already in were taken out, but they were not let into the taxis either.”
Taxi operators were reportedly angered by the introduction of new shuttle service routes – pushed by the university’s Student Representative Council – especially the route between town and the Summerstrand campuses.
Many students missed classes at other campuses, especially Missionvale, as the service was suspended for the day and resumed only on Friday.
Bus owner Shaeed Blunden said two of his buses had been stoned. It would cost about R17000 to fix broken windows.
"[Taxi operators] prevented our buses from leaving university premises by blocking all exit points. They removed all students from the buses,” he said.
"I understand they are unhappy about the arrangement as they feel they are losing income, but that was no way to [deal with] it. They should have sat down with the university and worked something out.”
The improved shuttle service is a result of talks between university management and the SRC to address the growing need for student transport.
University spokeswoman Roslyn Baatjies said there had been a "positive” meeting with taxi operators on Thursday in a bid to rectify the situation.
The Metro Public Taxi Forum did not respond to requests for comment.