The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) has called for more clarity and collaboration with government regarding the rules and regulations of how taxis operate under the lockdown.
“By our estimates, the taxi industry will lose almost R20 million per day under the 10% operational regulations,” Thabisho Molelekwa, spokesperson of Santaco, said on Saturday.
Molelekwa said the industry was concerned that even if the government compensated them, it wouldn’t be nearly enough to cover the losses they were set to experience.
“There is a general outcry that the government did not consult with the taxi industry. On top of that, we have contradictory regulations which, upon enforcement, frustrate an already frustrated industry.”
Molelekwa was referring to how taxi structures in some areas agreed with the local department of transport on practical ways to comply with the regulations but those agreement were flung out by the police “who said they were implementing orders from [Police Minister] Bheki Cele”.
Some of the operational frustrations expressed include reducing capacity to below 50%, the times taxis are allowed to operate, as well as in what areas they are allowed to operate.
With regards to the regulations that taxis are only allowed to operate between 5am and 9am, and again at 4pm to 8pm, Molelekwa said they had received reports where taxi drivers left an area before 9am but had not reached their destination by 9.15am “and that’s when the police arrest them or take the vehicle”.
“We still need to meet with [Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula],” Molelekwa said, although he did mention that Santaco’s president, Phillip Taaibosch, had committed to working with government “to the bitter end.
“We need clarity on how operations will be rolled out because we are providing an essential service,” Molelekwa said, asking how taxis are meant to cope if there is a queue of 200 people, considering that they can only take seven commuters at a time.
“By 9pm, half that queue is still waiting.”
He said they had delegated allocations of taxis to their provincial and regional marshals for now, but were in contact with them.
Some commuters, Molelekwa said, only start work at 12pm, or end work at 2pm, how do taxis manage that?
Santaco estimates that there are usually 250 000 taxis on the roads, but with only 10% of them in operation, there is fear among commuters and members as to how the industry will effectively operate.