Ramaphosa urges taxi industry to support bid for regulation
Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa urged taxi bosses to support his government’s plan to formalise and regulate the industry for the benefit and safety of drivers and commuters.
Ramaphosa was virtually addressing the first ever National Taxi Lekgotla since the idea was mooted in 1995 but rivalries in the taxi association prevented an earlier resumption of the lekgotla.
Hundreds of taxi associations mainly affiliated to Santaco have gathered at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg following the government’s initiative to regulate the industry which has over the years been marred by assassinations and contract killings.
The National Taxi Association (NTA), however, has boycotted the three days conference.
“Over the next three days we will be charting the course for a reimagined, better-regulated and empowered industry.
“The taxi industry is the lifeblood of our public transport system.
“Since the late 1970s it has served our people by providing an accessible means of public transit in nearly every corner of the country.
“The sector emerged at a time when apartheid spatial planning severely restricted people’s access to safe and reliable transport,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the vast majority of public transport commuters use taxis followed by buses and trains saying the industry was a major source of business creation with approximately 150 000 taxi business owners in operation.
“It is a major employer of around 300,000 drivers and 100 000 rank marshals.
“The taxi industry is therefore one of the most important sectors in our economy.
“This makes it all the more necessary that there is transformation and empowerment with real benefits to the businesses involved.
“High barriers to entry, such as the cost of vehicle financing and maintenance, is threatening business viability.
“Badly maintained and old vehicles threaten the safety of passengers and other road users.
“We share a common aspiration to see the minibus taxi industry overcome its challenges, adapt in response to the demands of modern public transportation, and ultimately to grow and thrive.
“At the heart of all our endeavours is formalisation, regulation and economic empowerment,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the three-pronged strategy reflects the recommendations of the National Taxi Task Team set up in 1995 to look at challenges facing the industry.
“Now, 25 years later, we are taking stock of how far we have come.
“From this lekgotla, we need to come up with concrete measures to ensure the long-term sustainability of this important industry.
“We have to address several challenges that have tarnished the reputation of the industry.
“These include the issue of labour relations and allegations of exploitation of workers; the high number of road accidents involving taxis; the industry’s response to the rise of e-hailing services; and compliance with tax laws.
“We also need to address the conflict relating to competition over routes and the associated acts of violence and criminality,” Ramaphosa said.
The same sentiments were expressed by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula – who also addressed the Lekgotla virtually.
Like Ramaphosa, Mbalula emphasised the need for the lekgotla to make a resolution on unity.