New taxi rule angers owners

2012-06-12 00:00

THE uMgungundlovu regional taxi council is ready to fight back against the requirement by the Transport Department for owners to replace their fleets with expensive new taxis and not the older Toyota Siyaya models.

Taxi operators in the region yesterday gathered at the YMCA sports facility in Pietermaritzburg, where they voiced their disapproval of the ruling.

The SA National Taxi Council office manager for KwaZulu-Natal, Sbonelo Zondo, told The Witness that in their monthly meeting with the department on May 24, Sifundiswa Lunga, an official, had said the department would be implementing a national law preventing owners from operating with taxis manufactured before 2006.

Other provinces had begun this process.

“This will never work in this province. We are still asking ourselves about what happened to the taxi recapitalisation programme as everyone is silent about it,” said Zondo.

uMgungundlovu taxi council chairperson Boy Zondi said the department did not consider the roadworthiness of the vehicles and simply wanted to remove taxi owners’ operating permits.

“We will meet the offcials from the department next week if we don’t get joy. The operators have agreed that we will protest against this and if that fails we will have to go to court.”

Zondi said the owners cared about the safety of their passengers, and the department’s requirement would kill the industry

“This is ridiculous,” said Zondi, because it cost much more to maintain a Quantum or a Sprinter than a Siyaya.

“We cannot live on the taxi money anymore as everything is expensive.

“This ends up causing problems for us with the commuters who don’t understand that the petrol price goes up by more than 20 cents but only goes down by five cents.

“This is not healthy for the industry. Government should remember that we are not subsidised and we buy taxis on our own.”

Zondi said the taxi industry should be subsidised.

KwaZulu-Natal transport spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said taxi operators were confusing themselves on the issue.

“It was explained to them that vehicles older than 2006 will not be allowed to continue operating. Those cars are to be scrapped because they are a hazard to the safety of road users and commuters.”

This was in line with the continuing taxi recapitalisation programme, he added.

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