The transport ministry has defended its attempts to assist the taxi industry amid the lockdown – saying the industry should have waited for Tuesday’s decisions to be announced by Minister Fikile Mbalula before resolving to load their vehicles to full capacity.
This comes after the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) warned that taxis will transport commuters to 100-percent capacity starting on Monday.
The taxi associations have also resolved that long-distance operators will resume work without permits.
Santaco has accused the ministry of failing to come to agreements over taxi operations amid lockdown regulations.
The Department of Transport spokesperson, Ayanda Allie-Paine, says the ministry still had intentions to engage with the industry.
“This past weekend’s meetings were a courtesy just to inform the industry that the real decision will be taken on Tuesday and any meeting that will be of substance will come after Tuesday. So, unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances and commitments that the minister could not get out of, he was not able to [attend] those meetings.”
“But to then say that he does not care about the taxi industry, we think is throwing the baby out of the bathwater. Context tells us that he was able to honor all the other meetings and he was able to give them a call and say to them please can we postpone. But that does not mean that we discredit everything we have done to assist the industry,” explains Allie-Paine.
The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) has warned Law Enforcement Agencies that if one vehicle is impounded for loading at 100% capacity and travelling to other provinces, they will bring the country to a standstill.
Santaco’s leadership made the announcement at a media briefing after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula yet again cancelled a meeting with the industry.
They are also demanding that all taxis that were impounded at the start of the lockdown be released.
Santaco President, Phillip Taaibosch says, “We are aware that law enforcement will want to impound our taxis. Our vehicles have been impounded since day one of the lockdown with a charge of at least R5 000. Tomorrow, we will not accept any form of impounding. Operators will have no option, but to park all their taxis countrywide until the impounded taxis are released and we are allowed to continue with our work.”
Meanwhile, some taxi operators say they will not fill their taxis to capacity – as indicated by the South African National Taxi Council and the National Taxi Alliance.
Santaco has accused the Transport Ministry of failing to come to agreements over taxi operations amid lockdown regulations.
The taxi drivers at the Bree Taxi Rank have indicated that they are not taking part in filling their vehicles to capacity.