The public will be the judge, says Santaco

2012-01-21 08:41

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) says it will be up to the public to decide whether the sudden departure of its chief executive and suspension of its president will dent the image of the council’s yet-to-be-launched airline company.

Philip Taaibosch, the taxi organisation’s general secretary, was responding to questions on whether the sudden developments would affect the public’s perception of the organisation ahead of the launch its
airline company.

“Santaco is a big organisation and the public’s perception will largely depend on what the public wants to understand from the latest developments,” Taaibosch said this week.

Bongani Msimang, Santaco’s first chief executive, resigned after being in the position for just eight months.

Another dent was added to Santaco’s image when its president, Jabulani Mthembu, was suspended in December for undisclosed reasons.

Since plans to launch the airline were unveiled last June, members of the public have questioned how Santaco planned to run a successful airline when the taxi industry was widely known for its poor service.
The Santaco president’s disciplinary hearing could raise further questions on how Santaco plans to run an airline company when its own house is not in order.

The low-cost Santaco Airlines should have taken off before the end of last year.

“The public must know that there is no crisis at this present moment and all the Santaco projects, which include the launching of the airline company and taxi training academy, are on course,” said Taaibosch.

“All Santaco projects are driven by workers and office bearers of the organisation, not individuals.

“After these developments, we were not only worried about the airline company. The image of Santaco and the taxi industry as a whole is being dented,” he said.

“Historically, the taxi industry has been tainted and taxi drivers and owners should make sure they understand that they are in business.

“This is why I believe that the training academy, which will start operating in the first week of March, will play a big role in improving customer service. It shows that Santaco is serious about changing the attitude and behaviour of taxi operators and drivers, and how they run their business.

“The public must know that nothing has changed at Santaco. Launching the low-cost airline is ranked number one on the list of our top priorities,” he said.

Media reports have linked the suspension and resignation of the two to an oil deal involving a company owned by the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on transport, Ruth Bhengu.

Taaibosch denied the allegations. He said Mthembu’s disciplinary process had nothing to do with the airline’s launch running behind schedule.

“People must be aware that Mthembu has been suspended, not expelled. We can’t comment further on the issue as the investigation is still going on,” he said.

Taaibosch refused to discuss the reasons for Msimang’s resignation.

“We are looking at the legal implications of Msimang’s resignation and I don’t think I’m at liberty to discuss this with the media.”

Msimang also declined to comment.

Taaibosch added that the resignation and departure of the two men had nothing to do with the late launch of the airline company or the oil project.

“In Santaco there is a lot of passion and seriousness around the launching of the airline company. Though Msimang added a lot of value, a company as big as Santaco cannot depend on a single individual,” he said.

Taaibosch said Santaco was not in hurry to hire a new chief executive.

“We have not even thought of finding his replacement. We have talented people and we are sharing responsibilities among ourselves as Santaco leaders and staff members,” he said.

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