Economy / 29 April 2019, 07:00am / Luyolo Mkentane
JOHANNESBURG – Minibus taxi drivers and rank marshals could soon enjoy employment benefits such as a housing allowance, membership of a medical scheme and a retirement fund, and funeral cover if Transport Minister Blade Nzimande has his way through the Revised Taxi Recapitalisation Programme (RTRP), which he launched on Friday.
Nzimande wants to overhaul the unregulated, multibillion-rand industry, to make it more inclusive and profitable.
The RTRP is aimed at stimulating the economic potential of the taxi industry and meeting the needs of its 15 million daily commuters.
Nzimande said he hoped to unify the fragmented taxi sector by introducing collaborative ownership and operating models. He said these would use structures such as co-operatives and what he termed corporatisation to achieve their goals.
Apart from optimising profitability and sustainability by introducing economies of scale, Nzimande said his envisaged collaborative ownership and operating models would provide taxi drivers and rank marshals with decent and secure employment.
“(And) with benefits such as living salaries, housing allowance, medical aid, pension fund, funeral cover, etc,” he said.
Nzimande said the collaborative taxi industry ownership and operating models would eliminate fierce competition among drivers and encourage responsible driver behaviour and passenger safety.
It would also promote training and skills development and help to enhance professionalism and customer service.
“It will also create wealth for taxi operators by rationalising taxi routes, eradicating over-trading on routes, and thus increasing profitability and sustainability,” Nzimande said.
The minister said the government had appointed Anthus Services to implement the RTRP, and the company had established the Taxi Recapitalisation SA as its trading entity.
He said 60percentof the commercial benefits generated by the entity's operations “will flow to the taxi industry” to meet the RTRP's transformation and sustainability requirements.
The RTRP has increased the allowance to R124 000 from R91 100 per scrapped old taxi.
“It is therefore important that I remind all that the initial target of the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme was to scrap 100 000 old taxi vehicles (OTVs) and was later adjusted to 135 894 in 2007,” Nzimande said.
“A total of 72653 OTVs have been scrapped and a total amount of R4.4 billion was paid in scrapping allowances by the end of September 2018.”
Thabisho Molelekwa, spokesperson for the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco), said they welcomed the increase in scrapping allowance. “Much can still be done though,” he said.
“The minister (Nzimande) also announced that the taxi industry will enjoy 60percent of the commercial benefits of the company (Taxi Recapitalisation SA). This has remodelled the taxi recapitalisation programme significantly.”
In November Santaco, the mouthpiece of the country's minibus taxi industry, acquired a quarter of SA Taxi through a transaction that saw it subscribing to almost R2bn worth of shares in the financial services provider at no cost to members.
The transaction would see Santaco acquiring R1.7bn worth of new shares in SA Taxi, with R1.2bn funded jointly by Standard Bank and Futuregrowth Asset Management, an Old Mutual subsidiary, and the remainder facilitated through vendor funding.