Local taxi operators will participate when called on
A MASSIVE taxi strike planned for Kimberley and the Northern Cape on Wednesday is off for now, but taxi operators warned that they will take to the streets again, if need be.
Taxi operators in the Province would have participated in the national strike action.
After failing to find a resolution to the problem following years of negotiations with a host of previous ministers of transport, the South African National Taxi Association (Santaco) vowed that it will not entertain any further “delaying” tactics from the Department of Transport.
Santaco, during a joint media briefing by the department and the association in Hatfield, Pretoria, yesterday, confirmed that the massive national strike by taxi operators scheduled for Wednesday was postponed.
The Northern Cape provincial chairperson of Santaco, Mazwi Nkonki, yesterday confirmed that operators in the Province were planning on participating in the strike action.
“This is a national issue and taxi operators in the Northern Cape have to support it. An injury to one in this industry, is an injury to all. We cannot sit back and let our colleagues struggle alone. If the Northern Cape faces a problem we would also need the support of other provinces,” he said.
The organisation said the strike would be held off whilst meetings with the relevant stakeholders were still under way.
“We will put pressure on stakeholders to commit to addressing our issues timeously during meetings. But we will not carry on with meetings that are getting us nowhere or frustrating us,” said Santaco deputy president Boy Zondi.
“We have been dealing with the department for years now and decided that we cannot stay in boardrooms anymore discussing these issues. We have bought our takkies and will not hesitate to use them should there be no progress.”
The Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi, said that meetings held with Santaco highlighted three integral issues to be resolved in the short and long terms, the first relating to calls for the industry to be subsidised.
Maswanganyi said that, considering how the sector accounted for 68 percent of the daily commuting public, the issue of subsidies to the industry needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
The operating licences administration backlog and access to reasonable finance agreements that did not cripple operators were amongst the issues raised.
Acting director-general Mathabatha Mokonyama said committees would be created to deal with issues hampering the sector and assist in looking for individual solutions that each province, including the Northern Cape, was battling with.
Mokonyama said the Taxi Recapitalisation programme was another platform that was under review and hopefully it will be presented to cabinet before the end of the year.
Maswanganyi said that he supported the ANC treasurer-general, Zweli Mkize’s statements for the taxi industry to be brought into the mainstream of radical socio-economic transformation.
“The taxi industry is largely owned by blacks and we need to seek to bring equity to those formerly excluded so they can join the economy. Charging exorbitant rates will not help our aim,” he said.
The department said it would enlist the assistance of other government departments, including Treasury and its agencies to explore other possible funding mechanisms.
Taxi operators were urged to work towards transforming the industry to become more modern and technology savvy rather than resorting to attacking Uber drivers.
“If we can transform the industry technologically and provide a safe mode of public transport it will become a choice for the young and the old,” the minister said.