Home News Uncontrolled competition creating conflict in taxi industry – deputy minister

Uncontrolled competition creating conflict in taxi industry – deputy minister

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This is while commuters in Kimberley were left stranded after taxi drivers embarked on a war over routes and government subsidies on Wednesday.

Deputy Minister of Transport, Dikeledi Magadzi. Pictures: Danie van der Lith

THE DEPUTY Minister of Transport, Dikeledi Magadzi, identified uncontrolled competition as the source of ongoing conflict that has sparked “intense and often violent battles” between taxi associations regarding the “ownership” of routes and commuters.

This is while commuters in Kimberley were left stranded after taxi drivers embarked on a war over routes and government subsidies on Wednesday.

Addressing the provincial taxi lekgotla on Wednesday, Magadzi stated that many operators were forced into financially unsustainable businesses.

“They are operating with badly maintained and extremely old taxi vehicles that threaten the safety of passengers and other road users,” Magadzi said.

She indicated that the National Taxi Task Team (NTTT) had proposed the formation of a national structure to bring about unity within the industry and to quell the violence by establishing a structure that would serve as the voice of the industry.

“The NTTT proposed that the industry should be supported and built into a modern and formalised industry.”

She added that the formalisation of the taxi industry presented several benefits to the sector and the government, including the introduction of cashless fare collection and the ability to enter into contracts with the government.

“The eradication of multiple contracts with each individual will reduce the burden of regulatory control as there will be fewer companies as opposed to tens of thousands of individuals.”

Magadzi advised that network routes be awarded instead of individual routes.

She pointed out that the taxi industry had assisted passengers to get to and from work and patients to access health care services during the hard lockdown.

“The services offered by the industry under these stressful times have not only contributed to the endurance of our industry, but most importantly have held the nation together – the social cohesion we have all been striving for.

“During our very harsh lockdown, a taxi passing by always represented, to many of us, a continuity and resilience of life even in the face of a raging pandemic.

“This the industry accomplished under very immense financial and other challenges that threatened or in many cases adversely affected the livelihoods of operators.”

The MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Nomandla Bloem, called for unity in the taxi industry.

Bloem said unity was critical to any form of regulation or empowerment.

“The Minister of Transport was assured by the industry that they all share a common vision of a united taxi industry that is able to speak in one voice. There are areas where they are not in agreement but the public discourse platform will provide all stakeholders with a platform to engage robustly and find each other,” said Bloem.

“Many critical challenges remain and require our collective wisdom and unity of purpose to tackle them in a decisive manner.”

She highlighted the need to regulate the taxi industry, promote safety and professionalism and manage routes.

“The taxi industry continues to operate as an informal sector on the fringes of the formal economy, especially in our Province. We need to lift operations from obscurity into legitimacy so that – as we develop the servicing of routes, improve the procedural integrity of processes and support growth – we are able to realise a public transport system that is vibrant, extending in its reach and supported.”

Bloem acknowledged the need to address road and infrastructure maintenance, ensure compliance with labour legislation and to consider subsidy schemes.

“We received feedback around the need for the implementation of training and development programmes, even the progressive proposal of a provincial training academy.”