Strike off, but taxi bosses still talking tough
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.
TAXING TROUBLES: Minister of Transport Joe Maswanganyi briefs the media on developments in the taxi industry.