The South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) and government have reached an agreement to put the planned taxi industry strike on hold, says Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi.
The taxi strike was scheduled to take place this coming Wednesday.
Minister Maswanganyi on Sunday announced that the strike was put on hold to allow for further engagement on issues that SANTACO brought to the attention of government.
He spoke to media in Pretoria in a joint briefing with SANTACO. He said both government and SANTACO agreed to work together to confront the challenges that the taxi industry continues to experience on a daily basis, as clearly articulated in the meeting which the Ministry of Transport had with SANTACO on Friday.
“The meeting was held as part of the commitment we made as government that we will meet with the transport industry role players, including the taxi industry, the rail sector as well as bus operators to discuss the transformation of this important economic industry, which is the cornerstone of economic development,” said the Minister.
Parties agreed to address issues relating to the taxi subsidy, operating licences and access to finance.
Committees, which incorporate members of SANTACO and the national and provincial spheres of government, will be set up to deal with these issues.
The National Household Travel Survey indicates that taxis are the most preferred mode of transport, accounting for over 68% of the daily commuting public. This, Minister Maswanganyi said, means the taxi industry remains the most important mode of transport.
“It is therefore inevitable that the issue of the subsidy of the industry needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. We have noted the need to address backlogs at Provincial Regulatory Entities which deal with operating licences.
“On the operating licences, government has been able to provide legislative requirements to ensure that taxi operations are confined to a specific area, as opposed to the previous radius based operations.”
The Minister said the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme, which is currently under review, will be presented to Cabinet this year.
With regards to access to finance, the Minister said government notes the frustration that the taxi industry is experiencing. He said the taxi industry is charged exorbitant interest rates when buying new vehicles.
“To this end, we are going to involve other government departments, including Treasury and its agencies to explore other possible funding mechanisms.
“As government, we are indeed upbeat that working together with the taxi industry we will make sure that we transform this industry into a modern, technology savvy and safe mode of public transport that will become a choice for the young and old,” said Minister Maswanganyi.
Denouncing violence in the industry
The Minister urged the taxi industry to unite against violence and any form of anarchy and criminality in the taxi industry.
“We call upon the industry to take a stance and expose those few individuals inclined to derailing the country from a good course of providing an affordable, accessible, safe and sustainable taxi industry. United we can fight the scourge of these atrocities.”
SANTACO’s Second Deputy President, Boy Zondi, reiterated the Minister’s words that the planned taxi strike will not be carried out this coming week, and also said the council denounces any form of violence within the taxi industry, be it amongst taxi drivers, competitors or against commuters.
Both the Minister and Zondi encouraged negotiations and spoke against violence to allow the betterment of the industry.