KZN braces for taxi protests

2012-07-23 16:47
Durban - KwaZulu-Natal taxi operators are preparing to hold a mass meeting in Durban on Tuesday before marching on the KwaZulu-Natal legislature on Wednesday.

KwaZulu-Natal Transport Alliance chairman Eugene Hadebe said on Monday that drivers were fed up with the department of transport's system of issuing permits for routes.

He accused officials of being unable to manage the permit system.

"We don't want the permits," he said.

Big Boy Dladla, secretary of the Top Six Taxi Alliance, said operators were also dissatisfied with the government’s taxi recapitalisation programme (TRP) and legislation which would make it impossible to sell a taxi older than six years to another taxi operator.

"If you have a taxi that was bought before 2006 you cannot sell it to someone else as the buyer cannot get a [taxi operating] licence for it."

He said the taxi operators were not interested in taking advantage of the TRP.

The R7.7bn TRP was first announced in 1999 and came into effect in October 2006 in an attempt to replace the country’s minibus taxi fleet with more modern and safer vehicles.

In terms of the TRP, taxi owners were paid R50 000 to have a vehicle scrapped. The owner could then use this money to exit the industry or as a down payment on a newer, safer vehicle.

'Insufficient' amount

Currently the amount paid in terms of the TRP is R63 100. However Dladla said this amount was insufficient when considering the price of a new vehicle.

"We don’t like it. Why should we be forced to destroy our vehicles? A [Toyota] Quantum costs about R300 000 as opposed to the [Toyota] Siyaya for which we have paid R120 000," he said.

Siyaya minibus taxis, originally known as Hi-Aces, were built by Toyota South Africa until the end of 2007.

Dladla said that if the Siyaya minibuses were taken off the roads many drivers would lose their jobs and the industry would not be able to provide sufficient transport.

Hadebe said taxi operators would meet on Tuesday at Durban’s Curries Fountain stadium. On Wednesday the taxi operators would march on the provincial legislature.

Comment could not be obtained from national or provincial transport departments.

Under the TRP, 48 000 taxis have been scrapped since 2006, of which about 5 000 were from KwaZulu-Natal.

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