Ithala partners with KZN taxi council

2015-02-23 00:00

THE SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) in KZN and the Ithala Development Finance ­Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding at a gala function hosted near Thandanani in the Drakensberg on Friday night.

Ithala executive for group marketing Themba Mathe said the agreement goes far beyond cheap loans for new taxis, as it also aims to unlock economic opportunities in the taxi industry by, for example, assisting people to set up repair shops or becoming fuel retailers.

He said the corporation will also help the taxi industry manage its cash flow.

“The bottom line is we want drivers to be able to manage their cash safer through services like transactional accounts, fuel cards and insurance products,” said Mathe.

“Our model will go into revenue sharing, so this is not a bank taking fees, but a partner assuming risk with Santaco’s members.”

The council’s chairperson in KZN, BB Zondi, said the gala evening heralded a number of firsts for the council, including awarding KZN’s best taxi driver; and a proposal to uplift standards in ­pupil transport by incorporating the unsafe and informal system into Santaco’s structures.

Santaco national president Phillip Taaibosch complimented the council’s KZN branch for leading by example, adding the signing showed “the time for playing in the taxi industry is over, now it is time to do business”.

He appealed to taxi drivers in Stanger, Newcastle and Mpumalanga to “stop being soldiers” and help ensure peace and stability by transporting people. His appeal follows the latest rounds of taxi turf battles in these towns.

In reaction to the recent spate of deaths and injuries of pupils transported in the back of ageing bakkies, Taaibosh said the council would also make a presentation to the Department of Transport to include the bakkies in the taxi recapitalisation programme on a national level.

MEC for Transport in KZN Willies Mchunu addressed KZN’s taxi bosses on conflict resolution and told them government wanted to help the taxi industry “to move in the right direction”. But he warned this required the industry to first show “legality and respect for the law” as well as keeping proper accounts.

Mchunu said his department would support the taxi council’s plan to incorporate the informal system of bakkies transporting pupils.

Santaco KZN’s top driver, Mr S Gumbi, was selected through a rigorous process entailing no outstanding fines, no disciplinaries with Santaco and excellent driving skills as tested at Mkondeni testing ground.

Editor of The Driver, Samuel Makhathini, said the initiatives by Santaco showed maturity in the industry.

• alwyn.viljoen@witness.co.za

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