Mbalula begins scrapping of 1 000 panel vans illegally converted into taxis

The Department of Transport has resumed the scrapping of 1 000 panel vans which were illegally converted into minibus taxis.

The scrapping process of illegally converted vehicles took place in Elandsfontein, outside Johannesburg, on Friday under government's Taxi Recapitalisation Programme.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said the department had, to date, received and processed 1 464 applications for scrapping of old taxi vehicles.

The taxi industry is the largest public transport mode, estimated to service about 15 million commuters each day.

Toyota Quantum goods-carrying panel vans, which are meant to carry only three passengers, have through the years been converted into makeshift taxis that could carry around 16 people.

As a remedy, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said the transport minister should ensure that there was an extensive updated record of the illegally converted vehicles, to establish with certainty the number of vehicles that must still be removed from the roads.

"The process of scrapping 1 000 illegally converted panel vans has begun, and this will be followed by scrapping the other vehicles whose applications for scrapping have been successful.

"Our commitment to uplifting the taxi industry has never wavered, and we are determined to create opportunities for them to grow their business," Mbalula said.

Scrapping process

Mbalula urged the taxi industry to deliver on its end of the bargain and ensure their members adhere to regulations and contribute to the country’s tax base like any corporate citizen.

Earlier this year, Mbalula's predecessor Blade Nzimande increased the minibus taxi scrapping allowance from R91 100 to R124 000 per vehicle.

Nzimande said the initial target of the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme was to scrap 100 000 old taxi vehicles, which was later adjusted to 135 894.

"A total of 72 653 old taxis have been scrapped and a total amount of R4.4bn was paid in scrapping allowances by the end of September 2018," said Nzimande.

READ: Taxi scrapping allowance increased to 'professionalise' the industry - Nzimande

"The strategic objective of the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme is to address the underlying economic circumstances of the industry, where it finds itself on the fringes of the economy as a hand-to-mouth business unable to recapitalise itself.

"While the taxi industry is committed to formalise its operations and subject itself to regulation, government is committed to a package of economic assistance interventions. It is for that reason that the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme remains the flagship of successive ANC administrations and a demonstration of our commitment to uplifting the taxi industry."

Meet safety standards

Mbalula said the main aim of the programme was to ensure that vehicles used to ferry commuters met safety standards.

"In enabling the effective phasing out of unsafe vehicles and enabling introduction of those that meet the safety standards, government provides a capital subsidy in the form of a scrapping allowance.

"This allowance is only accessed by those who voluntarily surrender their vehicles that meet a pre-defined criteria to be scrapped. After a break of one year, we are pleased to announce the resumption of the scrapping of old taxi vehicles," he said.

The department has appointed Anthus Service 84, through a competitive bidding process, to provide operational management of the scrapping process and establish scrapping sites in all provinces.

"In repackaging the scrapping administration, we have ensured that the taxi industry directly benefits from this process. The administration of this process will be undertaken through a special purpose vehicle, a company to be jointly owned by Anthus Service 84 and the taxi industry.

"The taxi industry will own 60% of this new entity and the proceeds derived from the project will be channelled to a Taxi Development Trust," said Mbalula.

He said the department was currently in negotiations with the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) on the institutional arrangements that would ensure that every operator in the industry was able to benefit.

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