Safety first: Ramaphosa’s plan to improve the taxi industry

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Minibus taxis parked at a taxi rank. Picture: Duncan Alfreds/News24
Minibus taxis parked at a taxi rank. Picture: Duncan Alfreds/News24

The taxi industry is crucial to the South African economy.

This week, the National Taxi Lekgotla will take place, to determine how the industry can and must play an important role in government’s ultimate objective of improving the daily experiences of commuters through the establishment of integrated rapid transport service networks in the metros, cities, towns and rural districts, said President Cyril Ramaphosa in his weekly newsletter to South Africans on Monday.

“The National Taxi Lekgotla to chart the course towards a more efficient sector. This platform brings together government, civil society and industry stakeholders and comes on the back of provincial makgotla that have taken place in most provinces,” he said.

The lekgotla would seek common ground on existing business models, safety and compliance, broader economic empowerment of operators and the issue of subsidies for taxis.

Read: Taxi Indaba set to deliberate on industry revamp and proposed new bank

It would also look at how to end the conflict and violence that continues to plague the industry because of competition on routes.

But, most importantly, Ramaphosa said, it must emerge with a blueprint for a formalised industry that plays a meaningful role in the mainstream economy and is effectively regulated,” Ramaphosa said.

Read: Relief fund on the cards for taxi industry

“Every day, in every part of the country, millions of our citizens use taxis, buses or trains to get to work, go to school, transport goods or go to centres where they can shop, visit clinics or get social support.

According to 2015 figures, around two-thirds of households who use public transport travel by minibus taxi. A quarter travel by bus and 10% by train.”

He added: “In a country where the vast majority do not have access to private cars, the provision of efficient, reliable, safe and affordable public transport is critical to our people’s everyday lives.”

Read: Rough ride for commuters as taxis hike fares and trains are still grounded

“Unfortunately, public transport continues to be plagued by challenges; some are the legacy of apartheid development, but many are contemporary and persistent.”

Ramaphosa referenced two events last week that showed that using public transport can be dangerous – even deadly.

Last Wednesday, 16 people were killed when a minibus taxi collided with a truck between Melmoth and Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal.

A day later, commuters had to flee for their lives on a busy highway in Johannesburg when a passenger in a minibus taxi opened fire on the driver, killing him and causing the vehicle to lose control. Fortunately, none of the other passengers was injured.

“Many of our people’s experiences with public transport are not positive. Those reliant on trains have to contend with daily delays, disruptions and prolonged closures of essential lines. Furthermore, rail infrastructure in most cities only covers older parts of cities and has not kept up with new city development,” he said.

The lekgotla would seek common ground on existing business models, safety and compliance, broader economic empowerment of operators and the issue of subsidies for taxis

Ramaphosa acknowledged that unroadworthy vehicles, unsafe driving, speeding and overloading were persistent problems in the taxi industry, and so was crime on trains, taxis and buses.

“With many people living far from places of work, transport is very expensive for low-income households. A report by Statistics South Africa found that more than two-thirds of households with the lowest income spend more than 20% of their monthly household income on public transport. The survey found that transportation by taxis to be the most expensive mode of public transport, followed by trains and buses,” he said.

“Since taxis are the primary means of public transit for people across all provinces, we are giving urgent attention to the problems in the industry.”

Taxis and the economy

When public transport is unsafe, unreliable and costly, it also affects economic activity, said Ramaphosa.

“Given that about four in 10 workers use public transport to reach their workplaces, these challenges have knock-on effects on productivity, labour relations and business functioning,” he said.

“As part of the programme to build a new economy, we are working with all stakeholders to improve the state of public transport. This is necessary if we are to expand manufacturing, increase local production, stimulate small business activity and create more job opportunities.”

“We are mindful that as households make decisions on where to live, where to work and where to study based on access to transport, businesses also make decisions on expansion and investment based on the mobility of the labour force.

“Simply put, we cannot achieve the economic growth and recovery we aspire towards if people cannot get to work on time and safely.

A well-functioning transport system has the additional benefit of alleviating road congestion and reducing travel times, energy consumption and air pollution.”

The Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan that was announced earlier this month acknowledged that improving transport infrastructure was central to economic growth and expanding industrial activity.

Ramaphosa acknowledged that unroadworthy vehicles, unsafe driving, speeding and overloading were persistent problems in the taxi industry, and so was crime on trains, taxis and buses

“As part of our plan, we have embarked on projects to modernise and refurbish commuter rail networks alongside the expansion of road rehabilitation and maintenance programmes,” said Ramaphosa.

“Upgraded transportation infrastructure coupled with improved public transport is a key driver of economic activity. Similarly, resolving the challenges facing a sector as important as the taxi industry is an important step towards transforming the public transport landscape.

“A formalised, well-managed, better regulated minibus taxi system is in the best interests of not just those who use taxis daily. It is also in the interest of the development and progress of the entire society.”


facebook
twitter
linkedin
instagram

Delivering the 

news you need

+27 11 713 9001
news@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24

E-Editions

Read the digital editions of City Press here.
Read now
Voting Booth
President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised outgoing Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng for his outstanding leadership and service. Do you agree?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
He served well.
69% - 62 votes
He was too controversial
31% - 28 votes
Vote