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

Pietermaritzburg’s minibus taxis.
Pietermaritzburg’s minibus taxis.

The Department of Transport announced it would increase the mini-bus taxi scrapping allowance from R91 100 to R124 000 per vehicle.

Transport Minister Blade Nzimande on Friday said that his department's intervention would assist in transforming the taxi industry.

Nzimande said government made a firm commitment to use legislation and strategic interventions to professionalise the taxi industry by making it user-friendly for both passengers and operators.

The taxi industry is the largest public transport mode, which is estimated to transport around 15 million commuters per day.

"In light of the above government decided to revise the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme to meet the current and future needs of commuters and to stimulate the economic potential of the industry," Nzimande said. "As part of this programme government hopes to address the challenges facing the scholar and cross boarder operations."

READ: What its like using taxis in SA: Violent, aggressive and unsafe

The Revised Taxi Recapitalisation Programme (RTRP) resumed in March 2019 when a new service provider - Anthus Services - was appointed. The company will be responsible for the administration and management of the programme.

In accordance with the Transport Department's mandate, Anthus has established a trading entity - the Taxi Recapitalisation SA (TRSA) - that will implement the programme.

To fulfil the transformation and sustainability requirements of the programme, 60% of the commercial benefits generated by the Taxi Recapitalisation SA operations will flow to the taxi industry.

Sites have already been established in all nine provinces to receive applications for the scrapping of old mini-bus taxis. 

The minimum requirements for applications to scrap old taxis remain the same as during the previous taxi recapitalisation programmes, Nzimande said.

"It is therefore important that I remind all that the initial target of the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme was to scrap 100 000 old taxi vehicles. This was later adjusted to 135 894 in 2007.

"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." 

Nzimande said with the reviewed programme, government is extending the scope beyond the more the balance of 135 894. He believes collaboration in the industry will eliminate existing fierce competition among drivers and encourage responsible driver behaviour and passenger safety.

Collaborative minibus taxi industry

"The collaborative minibus taxi industry ownership and operating models will also promote training and skills development, thus enhancing professionalism and customer service. It will also create wealth for taxi operators by rationalising taxi routes, eradicating overtrading on routes, and thus increasing profitability and sustainability," Nzimande said.

Taxi Recapitalisation SA has already commenced with the process to scrap the illegally converted Toyota panel vans following a report from the Public Protector released on March 27 2019.

In the report, it was found that the Department of Transport failed to to take effective and efficient measures to ensure commuters were safe while travelling in panel vans that were illegally converted into minibus taxis. 

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 passengers.

As a remedy, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said the transport minister should ensure that there is 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.

About 2353 illegally converted Toyota panel vans were identified by the department as being illegally converted. Of the converted panel vans, 436 were retrofitted.

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