POLITICAL NEWS - The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) has announced that all taxis across the country will operate at a 100% capacity starting Monday, 29 June.
Speaking during a virtual media briefing, Santaco president Phillip Taaibosch said the council’s decision comes after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula cancelled a meeting planned for Sunday with taxi operators, as well as other meetings which were planned for earlier in the week.
“This afternoon’s press briefing considered implications of the postponement of the planned meeting with Mbalula on the taxi industry. As of tomorrow all taxis are directed to load and operate at 100% capacity and all long distance taxis must resume operations so this means that no permits will be required from passengers.”
Taaibosch said the council will ensure that all safety measures were followed.
“We are aware that law enforcement will want to impound our taxis, but we will ensure that all taxis adhere to all health and safety regulations like screening and sanitising.”
He further said the taxi industry has been on board with government’s plan since the beginning of the lockdown despite the minister “misleading the nation about the taxi industry”.
“Mbalula has postponed the meeting for the fourth time so it has become clear that the minister does not appreciate the gravity of the situation.
“We are inclined to believe that the minister wanted to canvas his own understanding of what he was doing and wanted the public to paint the taxi industry in a bad light. We have all done our part to play the ball, but we have decided to face the bull and take it by the horns,” he added.
The council’s president reiterated that the taxi industry will not accept government Covid-19 relief fund package.
“The announcement of the minister on the taxi industry relief does not reflect the spirit of our negotiations with him because nothing that he said was finalised. We are not going to take the R1.1 billion because government is not taking us seriously. We will survive because we have been surviving without the assistance of the government.”
He said the council has not received any communication from the Mbalula on the continued postponements.
Addressing the registration of taxi operators with the South African Revenue Service (Sars), Taaibosch said all legal taxi operators across the country who possess an operating licence also has a Sars tax clearance certificate.
“Our proposal to the minister was that since this is the case, why doesn’t government use the licence as a qualification criteria instead of creating a complicated process for the applicants. If the issues is about general formalisation, which we do not dispute, we are saying do it as phase two.”
On operating licences, he further said according to Mbalula, Santaco requested that receipts be considered as proof that operators have applied for operating licences, however, the council disagreed.
“We reject his assertion that government has been considerate to even accept receipts as part of application for relief. We want to express that government does not have a choice, but to accept these receipts because these receipts are the creation of government deficiencies.
“Operators mainly here in Gauteng, have been waiting for their operating licences for no less than a year. The licensing system in Gauteng has been a problem for years leaving many operators without the necessary legitimate documentation.
“It is for this reasons we want to challenge the Minister that in the event these operators who have waited for years do not get their licences, Santaco will have no choice but to approach the courts for intervention. It is unfair for operators to be punished for a waiting period that is outside the legislation.”