MPLs weep over taxi violence

2010-04-10 00:00

SOME members of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature wept openly yesterday as MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Willies Mchunu played a video on taxi violence before delivering his R5,6 billion budget at the legislature in Pietermaritzburg.

As the five-minute DVD was played, some members were visibly shocked, others looked away and some wept openly as scene after scene of deadly violence in the industry was played before them.

The ACDP’s Jo-Anne Downs commended Mchunu for bringing before members the reality of what is happening in the industry.

Mchunu said the DVD bears testimony to the department’s resolve to intensify its focus on this industry during the 2010/2011 financial year.

“This industry by practice and trade speaks to the core of black economic empowerment, thus our contribution towards its economic emancipation must be evident, not implied,” Mchunu said.

As this year is the 20th anniversary of former president Nelson Mandela’s release from jail, Mchunu said it is on Mandela’s peace-making principles that the department remains anchored “as we together with the leadership of the taxi industry facilitate conflict resolution and peacekeeping within the industry”.

Before delivering his budget, Mchunu visited the taxi rank outside Edendale Hospital. During the visit, his first taxi rank visit since his appointment as Transport MEC, he interacted with taxi owners, drivers, conductors and commuters and gave them the chance to air their grievances concerning the industry.

In an attempt to encourage people to use public transport, he then took a taxi from Edendale taxi rank to the city centre — admitting he last travelled on a taxi in the 1980s. He promised to attend to grievances raised by different stakeholders in the industry.

Delivering the budget, he said the R5,6 billion allocated to his department consists of R3,7 billion in the form of equitable share payments from the national Treasury and national conditional grants of R1,8 billion.

“Road infrastructure development has a total allocation of R3,72 billion. In essence this means that the bulk of the budget is dedicated to infrastructure development. Of this infrastructure budget, R1,9 billion is for construction and R1,6 billion is for maintenance.

“The investment in construction consists of new gravel and blacktop [tar] roads, upgrading of gravel roads to blacktop and the rehabilitation of blacktop roads. Maintenance consists of routine maintenance, regravelling, blacktop patching, blading, safety and special maintenance,” Mchunu said.

He cited a number of projects that will be undertaken by his department and re-committed it to rural infrastructure development.

On developments in the public transport and freight industries, Mchunu said taxi owners in the province have committed to working together to ensure that the industry “is transformed from the present state, which is beset with confusion and violence, to a peaceful and organised industry where lawful operators can conduct their businesses profitably”.

He emphasised the need for safety on the roads and blamed costly accidents on speed, drunkenness, disregard for the rules of the road and the high number of unroadworthy vehicles.

n Administration

R428.1million

n Road Infrastructure

R3.7billion

n Public Freight Transport

R814.2million

n Traffic Management R581.7million

n Community-Based Programme R106.6million

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