Bonginkosi Madikizela says these three main issues are holding back Cape public transport

Four Golden Arrow buses were gutted on Thursday morning in Nyanga last week. Photo: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA

Four Golden Arrow buses were gutted on Thursday morning in Nyanga last week. Photo: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA

Published Sep 5, 2022


by Bonginkosi Madikizela

Our townships townships are burning, innocent lives are being lost, innocent passengers who are breadwinners are severely affected, and our infrastructure is destroyed.

This must be condemned in the strongest terms because it is unacceptable. The law must take its course and bring perpetrators to book.

But even if that were to be the case, it would not address the root cause of the problem. There is a tendency by some people in our governments to flex their muscles by choosing a confrontational rather than a collaborative approach when addressing our problems, especially when they are multifaceted.

What is the root cause? Three main issues are a bone of contention leading to many problems in our transport industry, particularly the minibus taxi industry.

1. Failure by the government to subsidise this industry: this debate has been going on for years. The government wants the industry to formalise itself before it can be subsidised, but I have a different view.

The government must take a lead in formalising the sector and then subsidising it. In the Western Cape alone, the minibus taxi industry makes R1.5 million a passenger trip a day, compared with about R240 000 for Golden Arrow Bus Services (Gabs), yet Gabs receives more than R1.1 billion from the government through the Public Transport Operations Grant, and about R35 000 for the MyCiTi bus service, yet receives more than R1bn from the government through the Public Transport Network Grant.

This arrangement is not sustainable.

2. Inconsistent issuing of operating licences: the National Land Transport Act spells out the roles of different spheres of the government in public transport in South Africa. Ideally, industry players should determine supply and demand and the government should regulate.

Unfortunately, it’s not the case. Many operators are frustrated because the government, municipalities in particular, are responsible for determining demand and supply, and then recommending to municipalities’ regulatory entities and provincial regulatory entities the number of operating licences to be issued.

Local authorities/municipalities are not keeping up with the pace of population growth and demand, which is why several taxis have few operating licences. Of course, there are also unscrupulous taxi association leaders who accept joining fees from new entrants, knowing there are no operating licences.

This results in many of these taxis being impounded because even though they are servicing the demand, they do not possess operating licences.

This is a big problem and both the government and taxi operators need to share responsibility instead of the government flexing its muscles and impounding these vehicles.

3. Failure to implement integrated transport plans (ITPs) by municipalities: ITPs are a chapter of the integrated development plans. Unfortunately, many municipalities, including metros, are not paying much attention to their ITPs. We have seen instances where some developments, such as malls, had to be retrofitted to accommodate transport interchanges or ranks because the initial plans did not include them.

Former Western Cape MEC for Public Works and Transport. File Picture: Western Cape Government/Supplied

The last time I checked, there were 42 economic active places in Cape Town where thousands of people were working, but there was no public transport route.

This results in the impounding of taxis transporting people from townships to these areas because they are deemed to be operating on illegal routes. This is mind-boggling.

An example of this is an area such as Brackengate About 30 taxis from Khayelitsha and about 30 from Nyanga transport workers there every day, but these taxis are often impounded because a route has not been established by the City in this area. How must these people travel to and from these places of work?

While we condemn violence linked to taxis and the taxi industry, the government must take equal blame for creating a situation that gives rise to lawlessness and then claiming to be enforcing the law.

Talking tough and enforcing the law will not solve bigger problems partly created by the same government. Unfortunately, the casualties are the poor people.

* Bonginkosi Madikizela is the Western Cape’s former Transport and Public Works MEC.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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