CAPE TOWN - The taxi industry in South Africa face constant challenges. Taxi drivers face refusal of permits and exclusion in in the motor industry. We take a look at the South African Taxi Industry's mouthpiece, SANTACO and the history of taxi protests.
South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO), founded in 2001 acts as governance, regulation and a negotiator for the taxi industry.
The need for the taxi industry's "mouthpiece" stems back to pre-Apartheid whereby the industry was monopolised, as per The Motor Carrier Transportation Act of 1930. This Act banned the transportation of goods and passengers without a permit issued from the Local Road Transportation Board (LRTB).
Black drivers were also prohibited from operating in the taxi industry. However, there was a growing need for public transport, led by industrialisation and the increasing amount of people migrating from the rural to urban areas to seek work.
Although the formation of SANTACO has solved the issue of a divided industry, there remain conflict in the taxi industry.
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Timeline of taxi wars:
Pre-1977 - Stated-owned monopoly
The Motor Carrier Transportation Act of 1930 prohibited The taxi industry denied the transportation of passengers or goods without a permit.
1977–1987 - Impetus towards deregulation
The Soweto Riots urged the then National Party government to form a commission of inquiry into the taxi industry.
1987–1996 - Deregulation
The taxi industry was deregulated by The White Paper on Transport Policy of 1987, along with the Transport Deregulation Act of 1988.
1994–1999 - Post-apartheid
The National Taxi Task Team (NTTT) was formed by government in 1995 to resolve taxi violence and implement re-regulation.
However, government attempts failed and the leading organisations in the taxi industry, regarded at the "mother" organisations caused violence between 1998 to 1999.
1999–present - Recapitalisation
The National Land Transport Transition Act, Act No 22 of 2000, along with the new legislation was intended to formalise the industry.
A four-year recapitalisation scheme followed in 2002.
However, the scheme has not yet materialised, incurring many delays.
The plan of larger buses also threaten the taxi industry.
According to The Transport Department, 1,400 old and unsafe taxis have been scrapped, whilst 80% of the taxi fleet is expected to be recapitalised by the 2009/10 financial year.
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