Blue Dot plan to curb taxi violence gets stamp of approval
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The Blue Dot Taxi pilot project would see the participation of approximately 1 300 minibus taxis in an incentive programme that would reward improved driving behaviour
Cape Town - A new initiative to bring stability to the violence-ridden taxi industry has been officially launched by premier Alan Winde together with Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela at the Gene Louw Traffic College in Brackenfell yesterday.
The Blue Dot Taxi pilot project would see the participation of approximately 1 300 minibus taxis, distributed across the regions of the Western Cape, in an incentive programme that would reward improved driving behaviour and higher service quality, while encouraging reduced instances of illegal operations and conflict.
Madikizela said the project was responding to the urgent need to improve public transport in the Western Cape, considering the major challenges experienced by the passenger rail system, increasing congestion and other challenges.
He said the provincial cabinet endorsed the nine-month project last September and, after an intensive few months, including numerous engagements with representatives of provincial and regional taxi structures, implementation was planned for next month.
"As the largest provider of public transport services in the province, minibus taxis deliver an essential service that is vital to the functioning of the economy. However, these services also experience several challenges, including safety and quality issues, illegal operations and violent conflict," said Madikizela.
He said those problems were aggravated by the industry’s current economic fundamentals which incentivised fare-chasing, destructive competition, recruitment of illegal operators and fighting over routes.
"This is further exacerbated by a lack of government support and investment in the industry, which receives only about 1% of public transport funding nationally," he said.
Winde said the Blue Dot service showed that the government’s commitment to continuing to deliver services in a way that was innovative and that contributed to the key pillars of their recovery-jobs, safety and dignity and well-being.
"This will not only provide safer, more dignified transport, but it will also allow people to travel to work and to access economic opportunities, while supporting jobs in the taxi industry,” said Winde.
Madikizela said that the industry had operated without significant investment and support from the government for far too long, but he was confident that things were about to change significantly.
SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) provincial spokesperson Gershon Geyer said the council was grateful for the department to partner with the taxi industry on the initiative.
"We think this is the right direction to change driver and operator's behaviour. We hope this roll-out of 1300 will be a success, and will lead to a full implementation of all 23 000 taxis in the Western Cape," said Geyer.
Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) secretary Mandla Hermanus welcomed the initiative, saying it was an intervention by the Western Cape government to formalise the taxi industry.
"It is a tangible step in what can be a pilot on what subsidising the industry would look like. The department should be commended for demonstrating faith in the industry and putting it at the centre-stage of revamping and improving public transport," said Hermanus.
The ANC provincial spokesperson on Transport and Public Works, Lulama Mvimbi, said that they would cautiously monitor the initiative, hoping that it was not going to be a substitute for the total subsidisation of the taxi industry.
"We would make sure that this initiative fully benefits the taxi operators and all the participants in the taxi industry, including the drivers. We also hope that it is going to bring about an improved service for the commuters," said Mvimbi.
Madikizela said his department would now begin the process of signing up participating operators, training operators and drivers, and fitting out vehicles with trackers and the Blue Dot branding, in preparation for the go-live launch.