The Star Early Edition

Taxi strike could stop matrics ar­riv­ing on time

If pupils miss their ex­ams, the blame should be placed on trans­port min­is­ter, taxi op­er­a­tors say

- TE­BOGO MONAMA

Con­tin­gency plan in place should the strike go ahead as planned

AN UP­COM­ING taxi strike could spell dis­as­ter for thou­sands of ma­tric can­di­dates who might not make it to school on time for their ex­ams should they fail to find al­ter­na­tive trans­port.

The Na­tional Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion (NTA) plans to go on strike on Wednesday; this comes af­ter an­other protest (against farm killings) last week saw many matrics ar­riv­ing at exam rooms very late af­ter thou­sands of peo­ple blocked the roads.

The NTA has warned com­muters to make al­ter­na­tive plans on Wednesday, when they plan to take over the streets of Pre­to­ria in an ef­fort to force the trans­port min­istry to lis­ten to their griev­ances.

NTA spokesper­son Theo Malele said the march will first go to the Department of Trans­port of­fices be­fore head­ing to the Union Build­ings.

Malele ac­cused Trans­port Min­is­ter Joe Maswan­ganyi of ar­ro­gance and re­fus­ing to en­gage with the in­dus­try.

“We want to deal with the ar­ro­gance of the min­is­ter who re­fuses to give at­ten­tion to a host of griev­ances in the taxi in­dus­try.

“We have is­sues with the new Aarto (Ad­min­is­tra­tive Ad­ju­di­ca­tion of Road Traf­fic Of­fences) bill and the un­work­able taxi re­cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion process and op­er­at­ing li­cence prob­lems.”

Driv­ers want an in­crease in the amount they get paid when they hand over their old taxis as part of the taxi re­cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion plan. Cur­rently own­ers are given R84 000 for an old taxi.

The driv­ers’ gripe with the Aarto bill is that for ev­ery traf­fic of­fence, a driver’s li­cence gets a de­merit un­til they lose their driver’s per­mit.

Taxi driv­ers were sup­posed to go on the march last month but it was can­celled at the 11th hour af­ter Maswan­ganyi agreed to meet them. Malele has ac­cused Maswan­ganyi of not stick­ing to his prom­ise.

“We were sup­posed to have our march on Oc­to­ber 19 and the min­is­ter asked us to post­pone.

“The min­is­ter failed to hon­our his prom­ise and, if ma­tric learn­ers miss their ex­ams, the blame should be placed squarely on the min­is­ter,” Malele said.

Maswan­ganyi’s spokesper­son, Ish­mael Mnisi, did not re­spond to phone calls and text mes­sages.

Ma­tric can­di­dates are ex­pected to sit for the English pa­per 2 exam on the morn­ing of the strike. Last Mon­day, the Gaut­eng Department of Ed­u­ca­tion had to give can­di­dates con­ces­sions af­ter they ar­rived late for their ex­ams be­cause of the Black Mon­day protests.

In some cases, can­di­dates were al­lowed to write their ex­ams at al­ter­na­tive cen­tres as the protest against farm killings blocked the main high­ways in Gaut­eng.

Gaut­eng Ed­u­ca­tion Department spokesper­son Steve Mabona said a con­tin­gency plan was in place for the ex­ams, should the strike go ahead as planned.

“In the event learn­ers are late, for rea­sons be­yond their con­trol, all chief in­vig­i­la­tors will know how to man­age their ex­am­i­na­tion.

“We will ap­peal that learn­ers try to use al­ter­na­tive means to reach their cen­tres. Par­ents must en­sure that learn­ers are safe. All those learn­ers who do not make it, will be man­aged ad­min­is­tra­tively,” Mabona said.

He said it was wor­ry­ing that there were protests that af­fected ma­tric can­di­dates.

“It is un­for­tu­nate that we ex­pe­ri­ence ac­tiv­i­ties that are dis­rupt­ing our ex­am­i­na­tion process. The in­tegrity of our ex­am­i­na­tion is our pri­or­ity; and, as such, we call upon all to re­spect this im­por­tant mo­ment in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor,” Mabona said.

In June, South African Na­tional Taxi Coun­cil (San­taco) taxi driv­ers went on a protest, block­ing high­ways in their fight against ex­or­bi­tant in­ter­est rates they said they were be­ing charged when buy­ing new ve­hi­cles.

Malele said they were ex­pect­ing mem­bers from through­out the coun­try to de­scend on Pre­to­ria.

“This means there will be lack of trans­port in some ar­eas. Peo­ple must also ex­pect traf­fic on some routes be­cause ev­ery­one will be driv­ing to con­verge in Pre­to­ria. We want this protest march (to be con­ducted) in a peace­ful way.”

Mnisi said they were sur­prised by the planned protest. He said in their meet­ing last month it was agreed that a tech­ni­cal team be formed to deal with the taxi op­er­a­tors’ griev­ances.

“The meet­ing has not even sat and now they want to protest. We have said that gov­ern­ment is will­ing to deal with taxi op­er­a­tors’ is­sues.”

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