Members of the Nanduwe Taxi Association blockade Simmonds Street in Johannesburg during a stike. Today's meeting should discuss some of the existing grievances. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko
The Taxi industry is to have showdown discussions today with Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi and transport officials that will determine whether next week’s planned national mass protest action targeting the government goes ahead.

MP Filtane, a spokesperson for the Mass Taxi Industry Protest Action Committee which organised the blockade at Toyota South Africa’s manufacturing plant in Prospecton, Durban, in May, and last month’s protests in Johannesburg and Midrand, confirmed yesterday that the industry had a list of issues that they wanted to be raised with Maswanganyi.

Filtane said the meeting was requested by the taxi industry. He said although he would not be present, the meeting would highlight issues such as taxi operating licences and confusion about who obtained operating licences; transport subsidies that excluded the industry; and the way state-owned lending institutions ignored it.

National transport department spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi confirmed the meeting, saying it would be held today after an industry request to discuss a number of issues.

The Mass Taxi Industry Protest Action Committee has a list of more than 30 entities it previously indicated it planned to target in its ongoing rolling protest action, including vehicle manufacturers, banks, insurance and fuel companies and government entities.

Their grievances include vehicle pricing, taxi financing and demands for radical economic transformation.

Filtane confirmed that depending on the response from the government, the strike would not go ahead but stressed the strike action was a process.

“It (the government’s response) is unlikely to stop it, but it depends on the the responses.

“If the government responds positively, it may not be targeted. Some (entities) have responded proactively before we get on to the streets. We got something from SA Taxi, even if it was not exactly what we wanted. Discussions with Toyota are continuing.

“These things could have been resolved a long time ago and this (the protests) could have been avoided,” he said.

Mnisi said he could not pre-empt what was going to be discussed at the meeting.

“The minister (Maswanganyi) is going there with an open mind, knowing very well whatever issues the industry has raised before, we have tried to intervene and address. The minister and the industry, together with provinces, meet from time to time. It’s not the first, and I presume not the last,” he said.

Mnisi said the issue of operating licences had been raised several times by the taxi industry but in terms of the National Land Transport Act that was a competency that lay with the provinces and municipalities.

“We can listen to the issues raised and direct them to the appropriate authorities,” he said.

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Mnisi believed that the taxi industry may raise the issue of taxi subsidies in the meeting, because it was among the issues continually raised by the industry. He referred to Maswanganyi’s transport budget vote speech in May in which the minister spoke about the renewal of the transport subsidy policy.

Maswanganyi said then his department was finalising the much awaited Public Transport Subsidy Policy, which would focus more on subsidising the user than the operators, irrespective of the mode used.

“It is totally unacceptable that other modes, notably taxis, are not included in the subsidy regime. This is despite the result of the 2013 National Household Travel Survey, that indicated that the taxi mode is the most preferred by the majority of transport users, accounting for more than 68 percent of the daily commuting public.

“To this extent, I will be meeting the taxi industry, the rail sector and bus operators to discuss the transport subsidy policy,” he said.