Taxi industry to defy rules

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The Brookside Mall taxi holding area, which is being used to manage traffic congestion in town.
The Brookside Mall taxi holding area, which is being used to manage traffic congestion in town.
Ian Carbutt

 “Try and stop us and see what we’ll do.”

Taxi operators who fall under the governing structure of the KZN National Taxi Council (Santaco) have laid down the gauntlet saying they will increase loading capacity to 100% from Monday. This is in response to stringent requirements government has set for the industry to qualify for the R1,135-billion relief.

The taxi industry is also demanding more money from government to compensate for their loss of income during the lockdown.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced the aid package last Friday, but taxi associations claim this is not nearly enough to cover the whole industry.

Boy Zondi, Santaco KZN chairperson, said they have directed all operators to defy the 70% loading capacity. Long distance taxis will no longer produce permits from Monday, he said.

“Taxis all over KZN will carry 100% passengers from Monday. The long-distance taxis should not be required to produce permits from Monday. Should any of these decisions be disrespected, we will shut down taxis throughout the province,” Zondi said in a statement.

He warned that should their members be stopped by law enforcement or traffic officers, they will shut down taxi ranks across the province. Should taxis be taken off the road by authorities, the industry will embark on a total shutdown in the province, he said.

This week, Santaco in KZN was supposed to have met Mbalula, however, the meeting was postponed. Zondi said it was postponed after Mbalula said he still had to table the industry’s demands to government’s Covid-19 committee.

He said taxi owners in KZN were disappointed that government was playing a game of cat and mouse.

Although he remained mum on what their next step would be, Zondi said tensions in the industry were running high as taxi owners continue to struggle financially.

Transport Ministry spokesperson Ayanda-Allie Paine declined to comment on the matter, saying that Mbalula would be meeting with Santaco’s national leadership tomorrow to discuss outstanding issues.

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