E-tolls: We won’t go back on our word – Peters

2014-11-18 14:38

Yesterday’s traffic disruption in Johannesburg caused by a taxi strike was “not fair”, says Transport Minister Dipuo Peters.

“While we note the concerns raised by the operators organised under the banner of the United Taxi Associations Front (UTAF) and their right to protest as enshrined in the Constitution, it should equally be appreciated that disrupting other people’s lives is unfair and regressive,” she said today.

“...The issues being raised are currently subjects of discussions between the Gauteng department of roads and transport and the organised taxi industry under the leadership of the country’s two biggest associations, the SA National Taxi Council and the National Taxi Alliance”.

Yesterday morning the M1 was blocked at the Xavier Street off-ramp by striking taxi operators, said Johannesburg metro police.

Taxi operators affiliated to the UTAF marched to the departments of transport and community safety in the Johannesburg CBD because the taxi industry felt it was being sidelined by the City of Johannesburg, said union secretary Vusi Mazibuko.

Peters said: “I want to reassure the taxi industry that government has no intention of going back on its commitment to exempt the industry from e-tolling.

“However, taxis should be properly registered with a valid operator permit to be considered for exemption.”

She conceded that problems with issuing operator permits had affected taxis’ e-toll exemptions.

Peters said the taxi industry was important in the transport sector, transporting at least 67% of the commuting public, and contributed over R40 billion to the economy each year.

The department was open to dialogue with the taxi industry and called on leaders in the industry to make use of this avenue without causing inconvenience to the commuting public and economy.

Yesterday, Mazibuko said operators affiliated to the UTAF transported 72% of the workforce and wanted to use a dedicated lane as the BRT buses did.

He said other issues included taxis being impounded on a daily basis by law enforcement agencies while taxi operators had pending permits.

The taxi drivers also included the e-tolls in its memorandum, he said.

“Our understanding is that taxis will be exempted, but daily operators receive invoices or phone calls that say if they don’t pay they will go to court.”

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