Further taxi protest is planned for next month
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.