Pretoria - Deputy Minister in the Presidency Pinky Kekana has commended the taxi industry for the relentless efforts to provide public transport and their invaluable support to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kekana made the remarks yesterday while visiting the SA Taxi offices in Midrand as part of observing transport month and recognising the work done by all stakeholders in the taxi industry.
She was joined by professor Professor of Public Health Mosa Moshabela from the University of KwaZulu-Natal who is one of the professionals leading the battle against Covid-19 from a research perspective.
She said many industries could learn from the taxi industry as she toured the SA Taxi vaccination site that was established to also aid taxi drivers who are always pressed for time to have a place where they could vaccinate quickly and be back on the road.
She described her visit as an opportunity for the government to learn more about the contributions of SA Taxi to the sustainability of the taxi industry.
She also toured the autobody warehouse where damaged taxis were rebuilt to high-quality standards and the autoparts warehouse where the taxi industry sources original parts to keep their vehicles in good condition.
Kekana said: "In partnership with SA Taxi we are also rolling out the Vooma Vaccination Programme launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week.
"SA Taxi has an on site vaccination centre which is not only available for employees but taxi operators, passengers and people on the streets. People are able to just walk in and vaccinate.
"We have also seen the whole value chain of SA Taxi and the amount of women they have appointed in various divisions in this SA Taxi industry and we are very proud that at least there is a lot of consideration for women to participate.
SA Taxi spokesperson Maroba Maduma said the company was grateful to have had the minister from the presidency and professor Moshabela to come and see how SA Taxi played a supportive role as a vertically integrated company in the taxi industry.
"They have seen our offerings to the industry and how our partnerships with the different taxi associations and different members of the taxi industry benefits the industry as well as the commuters at the end of the day.
"We also wanted to show off our vaccination centre and our efforts to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. We obviously wanted to make sure that every single member of the taxi industry has no excuse, such as time or anything of that matter, not to vaccinate but they have a special place where they themselves can come in, without having to wait in long lines and long queues, for them to be able to vaccinate using the Pfizer vaccine which is obviously a two-jab vaccination."
Kekane's visit impressed chairpersons of Tembisa, Alexandra Taxi Association and Faraday Taxi Association, Smarts Mhlambe and Caiphus Xaba. They said it was encouraging to see the government and their partner, SA Taxi, recognise the work that they endure to ensure that about 15 million workers have transport to go to work every day.
Kekana and SA Taxi Head of Corporate Affairs Matsi Moswane handed Mhlambe keys to new Xaba patrol vehicles sponsored by SA Taxi. Kekana said the vehicles would aid the industry to manage and monitor developments on their routes to avoid instances that result in taxi violence.
Xaba said: "Today we feel happy because we witness the highest office in the government, the Presidency, come and recognise us for the work that we do in transport. We feel appreciated and encouraged.
"We are also pleased with the undying efforts by our partner SA Taxi to enhance our industry on top of giving people like us opportunities to become businessmen and purchase taxis with finance and insurance. We are very proud."