R33m Moja Cruise taxi incentive under scrutiny
DURBAN - THE eThekwini Municipality has spent R33 million of taxpayers money since October 2018 on the Moja Cruise mini-bus taxi incentive programme ‒ a collaboration between the eThekwini Metro Taxi Council (EMTC) and a leadership body of the mini-bus taxi industry.
Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the programme involved five regions, 76 taxi associations, 340 taxi owners, 499 drivers and 415 vehicles. The incentives are: R1 000 per taxi a month is paid to the operator, R5 000 a month to each participating association and R8 000 a month to each qualifying region.
A further “driver of the month” incentive pays winning drivers R3 000, and the runners-up R1500. The City has spent R33 810 249 to date. The cost of the incentive is R822 000. Mayisela said all vehicles forming part of the programme were fitted with tracking devices to monitor whether the vehicle has operated for 15 days in a month for the owner to qualify for an incentive that month.
“When the full programme is rolled out, this information will be used to determine training needs for drivers. Information received from these tracking devices will also be used to create management reports for each owner, association and region,” said Mayisela.
But he added passengers in Moja Cruise vehicles were not yet able to send their ratings on driver behaviour, as it was still in the pilot phase.
“With the full roll-out, passenger comments will be solicited and factored into the rating of drivers,” Mayisela said. DA eThekwini caucus leader Nicole Graham said the party was concerned about the ongoing cost.
She said responses to council questions posed by the party revealed the programme costs between R800 000 and R1 million a month. This was aside from the initial establishment cost, which shot up from R131m to R202m in 2017.
Graham said in a 2019 presentation to the DA caucus, the eThekwini Transport Authority was forced to concede that much of the project had not been implemented as promised.
“The municipality has also conceded that no single taxi has been removed from the programme for non-compliance. It is highly unlikely that over four years, nobody has violated the rules to an extent that they should no longer be paid to participate.” She said the programme had failed on its core offer – creating a mini-bus taxi service that was safer and more responsive to the needs of commuters.
“It’s time for the municipality to explain exactly why they have failed and why this programme continues at such great cost,” Graham said.
Mayisela argued the programme had not failed. “We have noted an improvement in the mini-bus taxi industry,” he said.
IFP eThekwini exco member Mdu Nkosi said that at the onset he was concerned about the expenditure and called for an in-depth breakdown of how the money was spent. “Nobody can sit up and say this assisted us. Did we get value for money? There was no proper feedback on the achievements of the programme,” Nkosi said.