MEC warns taxi bosses their business is failing

2012-09-05 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal taxi industry was on the brink of collapse due to reckless and uncontrolled growth, Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu said yesterday.

Addressing industry representatives at a taxi indaba in Durban, Mchunu said the over trading in routes would lead to the industry’s collapse.

The industry faced a challenge in diminishing economic viability as the number of taxis had increased while the number of passengers remained steady or declined, resulting in the industry collapsing.

The indaba was called to address the recent turmoil in the industry that had threatened to derail the industry’s fragile peace.

“The taxi industry is indeed killing itself. There are taxi associations that have vehicles that queue for duty for days without getting a load and yet they continue to recruit more members.

“That the routes are saturated and profits are dwindling seems not to concern the leaders of the associations.”

Mchunu said his department was concerned about the situation and would conduct a study to find out which routes were still profitable.

“The taxi associations just allow for anyone with the taxi to register … in most cases they do this because they wanted to get the money that is paid when one registers a taxi. This is quick cash for those in charge.”

He said that led to instability within the leadership, with operators fighting to get their hands on the registration money.

“This is why you find [taxi] leaders overthrowing each other regularly — it is because of this money. They [taxi associations] let their routes get crowded. When they realise that they are no longer making any money there, they will look for other routes. They target those people they perceive to be weaker and they take over that route as well.

“Once they have taken over that route, they will also let too many taxis join, leading to the overcrowding of that route and hence they will have again to look for another route causing conflict.

“Everything starts with the fights over routes and everything else will follow from there,” he said.

Mchunu said the department had tried to deal with the issue by controlling the issuing of operating licences, and had placed a moratorium on licences on the routes that had been identified to be badly affected.

Boy Zondi, of uMgungundlovu Santaco, said some operators were struggling to make payments for their vehicles. “We have taken the decision that no more operators can be accommodated on the routes that are full.”

Attempts to get comment from the KZN Taxi Alliance were unsuccessful.

Premier Zweli Mkhize called for unity and astute management of the industry, saying it had massive potential for growth.

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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