Fur­ther taxi protest is planned for next month

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Roy Cokayne

THE TAXI in­dus­try, whose protests last week re­sulted in many of the streets around Jo­han­nes­burg and Midrand be­com­ing grid­locked, is plan­ning to em­bark on a na­tional strike and protests next month.

MP Fil­tane, a spokesper­son for Mass Taxi In­dus­try Protest Ac­tion Com­mit­tee, a taxi in­dus­try splin­ter group that last month or­gan­ised the block­ade at Toy­ota South Africa’s man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Prospec­ton in Dur­ban in protest at its to­tal ex­clu­sion from the in­dus­try’s value chain, con­firmed yes­ter­day that the in­dus­try would be go­ing on strike on July 15.

Fil­tane said govern­ment en­ti­ties would be tar­geted dur­ing this strike, in­clud­ing the na­tional trans­port de­part­ment, Na­tional Trea­sury, branches of the In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (IDC), the Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (PIC) and Na­tional Credit Reg­u­la­tor (NCR).

He said the strike and protests were to high­light sev­eral is­sues, in­clud­ing taxi op­er­at­ing li­cences and con­fu­sion about who ob­tained op­er­at­ing li­cences; trans­port sub­si­dies that ex­cluded the taxi in­dus­try and the way state-owned lend­ing in­sti­tu­tions ig­nored the taxi in­dus­try. “It will be a gen­eral na­tional strike and taxi op­er­a­tors will prob­a­bly not op­er­ate at all on that day and use the time to march on the of­fices of the na­tional trans­port de­part­ment, Trea­sury, branches of the IDC and PIC,” he said.

Le­siba Mashapa, the com­pany sec­re­tary at the NCR, said they would work with the taxi in­dus­try, stake­hold­ers and other govern­ment in­sti­tu­tions to ex­plore so­lu­tions to the chal­lenges fac­ing the taxi in­dus­try.

At­tempts to ob­tain com­ment from the na­tional trans­port de­part­ment, Na­tional Trea­sury, IDC and PIC were un­suc­cess­ful.

The SA Na­tional Taxi Coun­cil (San­taco) has for many years been at log­ger­heads with the Gaut­eng trans­port reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties over the in­abil­ity of the pro­vin­cial en­tity to is­sue new op­er­at­ing li­cences to taxis for re­place­ment or up­graded ve­hi­cles in good time.

San­taco in 2013 reached an agree­ment on this is­sue with the Gaut­eng trans­port reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties, which was made an or­der of the North Gaut­eng High Court.

How­ever, San­taco pres­i­dent Philip Taai­bosch claimed the fol­low­ing year that more than half of the taxi op­er­a­tors in Gaut­eng did not have op­er­at­ing li­cences be­cause of the lax­ity and in­com­pe­tence of the reg­u­la­tory body and that there was a flout­ing of this agree­ment.

San­taco in 2014 also lodged a com­plaint with the Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion, al­leg­ing that sub­sidy agree­ments be­tween the govern­ment and bus op­er­a­tors, in­clud­ing Putco and Golden Ar­row, were anti-com­pet­i­tive.

The com­mis­sion last month launched a mar­ket in­quiry into land-based pub­lic pas­sen­ger trans­port be­cause it be­lieved the in­dus­try may be en­gag­ing in anti-com­pet­i­tive be­hav­iour.

Six en­ti­ties lo­cated in Jo­han­nes­burg and Ross­lyn in Pre­to­ria, in­clud­ing ve­hi­cle fi­nancier Wes­bank and Nis­san South Africa, were sched­uled be tar­geted by taxi op­er­a­tors last Thurs­day as the in­dus­try’s protests against its to­tal ex­clu­sion from the in­dus­try’s value chain moved to Gaut­eng.

This tar­geted protest was post­poned fol­low­ing the taxi in­dus­try reach­ing agree­ment with SA Taxi but taxi op­er­a­tors, some ap­par­ently with their own agen­das, se­ri­ously dis­rupted traf­fic on their way to a re­port back meet­ing at Em­peror’s Palace in Kemp­ton Park about an agree­ment reached with SA Taxi. A new date for protest ac­tion against Wes­bank and Nis­san SA has not yet been set.

The Mass Taxi In­dus­try Protest Ac­tion Com­mit­tee has a list of more than 30 en­ti­ties it pre­vi­ously in­di­cated it planned to tar­get in its on­go­ing rolling protest ac­tion, in­clud­ing ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers, banks, in­sur­ance and fuel com­pa­nies and govern­ment en­ti­ties.

The griev­ances of the taxi in­dus­try in­clude ve­hi­cle pric­ing, taxi fi­nanc­ing and de­mands for rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion.

Collen Msibi, a spokesper­son for the na­tional trans­port de­part­ment, said the de­part­ment would de­fend and pro­tect the con­sti­tu­tional right of the taxi in­dus­try to peace­fully demon­strate about any is­sues that af­fected the in­dus­try pro­vided it was done within the am­bit of the law.

Msibi said they be­lieved such demon­stra­tions must be done in a man­ner that did not af­fect other road users, taxi com­muters and the econ­omy.

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