Thousands of Gauteng taxi commuters face being stranded as Santaco plans strike on Monday

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Minibus taxis parked at a taxi rank. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Minibus taxis parked at a taxi rank. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
  • Scores of commuters in Gauteng will be left stranded after taxis have threatened to down tools on Monday.
  • Santaco is aggrieved over the loss of income, and fears banks will resume deducting debts from 1 July.
  • Also, the National Taxi Alliance has allowed its members to increase taxi fares by not more than 40%.

 

Scores of taxi commuters will be left stranded on Monday as the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) in Gauteng embarks on a strike.

Santaco national spokesperson Thabiso Molelekwa said they were informed by their provincial structure about the strike on Monday.

Molelekwa said there were many reasons that forced their members in Gauteng to embark on a strike including losing money during the lockdown.

"The strike is definitely on. Gauteng has told us to expect a letter with their decision to embark on a strike. We understand the pressure on the ground especially in Gauteng.  There is fear where banks expect payment from 1 July because the payment holiday is over.

"Gauteng has never had confidence in this process and felt that government was unjustly treating the industry. The situation was also compounded by continuous increasing impoundment of taxis during this period," said Molelekwa.

He said they still believed the need to engage with government and put some alternative proposals on the table.

"We believe not all avenues have been exhausted. Our biggest setback was the announcement by Minister Fikile Mbalula over the relief payment after he had immediately engaged with us in a meeting.

READ | Santaco vows to shut down taxis over 'insufficient' govt relief package

"We thought he would afford us an opportunity to respond. We are going to meet him next week. The announcement has caught us in an awkward position and we are unable to deal with masses on the ground.

"We believe in engagements with Mbalula and we also don't accept his offer. It is too little," said Molelekwa.

Meanwhile, National Taxi Alliance spokesperson Theo Malele said they have been monitoring the rapid escalation of capital and operational costs in the taxi industry with great concern.

Malele said they have come to a conclusion that the taxi fare increase is inevitable.

"The combination of the ever increasing prices and effects of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown regulations have made the fare increases both circumstantial and... inevitable.

"We therefore recommend that our member taxi associations may increase their fares with due regard to the affordability trends of the commuting public. In this regard, taxi fare increases where lower increments may not be possible, the increment quantum must not exceed 40%," Malele said.

He said they also met with Mbalula on 17 June, where  they persuaded him the taxis should revert to loading 100% and allow inter-provincial taxis to operate.

"We also strongly disagreed with the relief fund quantum given the dire straits the taxi industry finds itself. Mbalula undertook to give the taxi industry feedback on all three critical matters on 23 June.

"NTA will make an announcement on the above after the Tuesday meeting with the Minister," Malele said.

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