Strike off, but taxi bosses still talk­ing tough

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - GOITSEMANG TLHABYE

THE MAS­SIVE taxi strike planned for Wed­nes­day is off for now, but taxi op­er­a­tors warned that they will take to the streets again if they don’t see any ac­tion from the gov­ern­ment.

Af­ter fail­ing to find res­o­lu­tion to their prob­lems fol­low­ing years of ne­go­ti­a­tions with a host of pre­vi­ous min­is­ters of trans­port, the South African Na­tional Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion (San­taco) vowed it would not put up with any fur­ther “de­lay­ing tac­tics” from the Depart­ment of Trans­port.

San­taco, dur­ing a joint me­dia brief­ing by the depart­ment and the as­so­ci­a­tion in Pre­to­ria yes­ter­day, con­firmed the mas­sive na­tional strike by taxi op­er­a­tors sched­uled for Wed­nes­day had been post­poned.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion said the strike would be post­poned while meet­ings with the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers were still un­der way.

“We will put pres­sure on stake­hold­ers to com­mit to ad­dress­ing our is­sues timeously dur­ing meet­ings. But we will not carry on with meet­ings that are get­ting us nowhere,” said San­taco deputy pres­i­dent Boy Zondi.

Zondi added: “We have been deal­ing with the depart­ment for years, and have de­cided we can’t stay in board­rooms any­more dis­cussing these is­sues.”

Trans­port Min­is­ter Joe Maswan­ganyi said meet­ings held with San­taco high­lighted three in­te­gral is­sues to be re­solved in the short and long term; the first re­lat­ing to calls for the in­dus­try to be sub­sidised.

Maswan­ganyi said con­sid­er­ing that the sec­tor ac­counted for 68% of the daily com­mut­ing public, the is­sue of sub­si­dies needed to be ad­dressed as a mat­ter of ur­gency.

The op­er­at­ing li­cence ad­min­is­tra­tion back­log and ac­cess to rea­son­able fi­nance agree­ments were among the is­sues raised.

Act­ing di­rec­tor-gen­eral Matha­batha Mokonyama said com­mit­tees would be cre­ated to deal with is­sues ham­per­ing the sec­tor and as­sist in look­ing for in­di­vid­ual so­lu­tions that each prov­ince was bat­tling with.

Mokonyama said the taxi re­cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion pro­gramme was an­other mat­ter that was un­der re­view.

Maswan­ganyi said he sup­ported the view of ANC trea­sure gen­eral Zweli Mkhize that the taxi in­dus­try be brought into the main­stream of rad­i­cal so­cio-eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

“The taxi in­dus­try is largely owned by blacks and we need to seek to bring eq­uity to those for­merly ex­cluded so they can join the econ­omy. Charg­ing ex­or­bi­tant rates will not help our aim,” he said.

The depart­ment said it would en­list the as­sis­tance of other gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, in­clud­ing the Trea­sury and its agen­cies.

Taxi op­er­a­tors were urged to work to­wards trans­form­ing the in­dus­try to be­come more modern and tech­nol­ogy savvy rather than re­sort­ing to at­tack­ing Uber drivers.

“If we can trans­form the in­dus­try tech­no­log­i­cally and pro­vide a safe mode of public trans­port, it will be­come a choice for the young and the old,” said the min­is­ter.

Pre­vi­ous strike ac­tion saw op­er­a­tors block­ing key trans­port routes and caus­ing wide­spread dis­rup­tion.

Ma­jor routes af­fected by the strike in­cluded the N1 high­way at the Al­lan­dale off-ramp in Midrand and the N12 and Soshanguve High­way.

The strike dis­rupted emer­gency health ser­vices‚ schools‚ air­port ser­vices‚ traf­fic and many other eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties.

PIC­TURE: OUPA MOKOENA

TAX­ING TROU­BLES: Min­is­ter of Trans­port Joe Maswan­ganyi briefs the me­dia on devel­op­ments in the taxi in­dus­try.

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