Wed­nes­day’s planned protest can­celled

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Roy Cokayne

THE PLANNED taxi protest against the gov­ern­ment on Wed­nes­day has been sus­pended for fur­ther en­gage­ment on the is­sues raised by the SA Na­tional Taxi Coun­cil (San­taco) dur­ing its meet­ing with the gov­ern­ment on Fri­day.

How­ever, the taxi in­dus­try has warned the gov­ern­ment that it would not hes­i­tate to re­sume its protests.

Trans­port min­is­ter Joe Maswan­ganyi said yes­ter­day that the meet­ing on Fri­day agreed to ad­dress is­sues raised by San­taco re­lated to taxi sub­si­dies, taxi op­er­at­ing li­cences and ac­cess to fi­nance by taxi op­er­a­tors.

The first of the fur­ther en­gage­ments be­tween the taxi in­dus­try and the gov­ern­ment will take place to­mor­row.

“In tak­ing the dis­cus­sions for­ward, the meet­ing agreed to es­tab­lish com­mit­tees to deal with these is­sues. The com­mit­tees will in­cor­po­rate mem­bers from San­taco as well as those from the na­tional and provin­cial spheres of gov­ern­ment,” Maswan­ganyi said.

Boy Zondi, the sec­ond deputy pres­i­dent of San­taco, said they had told Maswan­ganyi on Fri­day that “it can­not be busi­ness as usual” in the taxi in­dus­try, be­cause he is the sev­enth min­is­ter of trans­port that they have en­gaged in dis­cus­sions.

Zondi said the min­is­ter and those in­volved in the dis­cus­sions with San­taco needed to en­sure there was a speedy res­o­lu­tion to the is­sues raised by the in­dus­try and that they were seen as as­sist­ing the in­dus­try.

“For now, we are ap­peal­ing to all the taxi op­er­a­tors and as­sur­ing the public at large that on July 12 there will be no mass ac­tion. How­ever, if we do get frus­tra­tions while dis­cus­sions are tak­ing place, we still have the takkies (to march).

Daily com­mut­ing

“But we will not just go out there and march. We will tell the min­is­ter that we are see­ing no progress… have no op­tion but to go out and march,” he said.

Maswan­ganyi said the taxi in­dus­try as a mode of trans­port ac­counted for more than 68 per­cent of the daily com­mut­ing public and trans­ported al­most 15-mil­lion peo­ple daily.

He said this meant the taxi in­dus­try re­mained the most pre­ferred mode of trans­port.

Maswan­ganyi said public trans­port, par­tic­u­larly rail and buses, cur­rently re­ceived gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies, but the taxi in­dus­try did not, although the gov­ern­ment had the taxi re­cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion pro­gramme that it was in the process of re­view­ing.

“It is there­fore in­evitable that the is­sue of the sub­sidy of the taxi in­dus­try needs to be ad­dressed as soon as pos­si­ble.

“We have noted the need to ad­dress back­logs at provin­cial reg­u­la­tory en­ti­ties that deal with op­er­at­ing li­cences. We agreed jointly through the depart­ment, provin­cial de­part­ments and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that we will look at this mat­ter and find a so­lu­tion.

“In re­gard to ac­cess to fi­nance, if you re­mem­ber some weeks back mem­bers of San­taco went public and had a strike, rais­ing the mat­ter whereby there are fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions that are charg­ing ex­or­bi­tant in­ter­est rates to their op­er­a­tors when they ap­ply for fi­nance.

“To this end, we are go­ing to in­volve other gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, in­clud­ing the Trea­sury and its agen­cies, to ex­plore other pos­si­ble fund­ing mech­a­nism.

“As gov­ern­ment we are there­fore pre­pared to as­sist San­taco to re­solve the three is­sues,” he said.

Maswan­ganyi added that the gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to get­ting all modes of public trans­port sub­sidised, par­tic­u­larly rail, buses and taxis, but in terms of its pol­icy of sub­sidi­s­a­tion it still had to de­cide whether it sub­sidised the op­er­a­tor or com­muter. He said they would look at that pol­icy po­si­tion with San­taco and he would take it for a de­ci­sion by the provin­cial trans­port MEC’s be­fore sub­mit­ting it to the Cabi­net for a fi­nal de­ci­sion.

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