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Taxis openly defy transport minister and lockdown regulations

29 June 2020 9:34 AM

Santaco spokesperson says if there is no government assistance, 45% of taxi operators will lose their vehicles to repossession.

South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) has announced its decision following failed negotiations with government.

Santaco spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa explains to Refilwe Moloto why they have chosen to openly defy the Transport Minister and State of Disaster regulations by declaring all their vehicles will carry full capacity as well as resume cross-provincial border trips as of Monday 29 June.

We have tried to engage with the Minister of Transport which has failed. The minister does not seem to appreciate the gravity of the situation.

Thabisho Molelekwa, Spokesperson - Santaco

It is for this reason, he says, that the leadership of Santaco took a decision to allow 100% load capacity in taxis and allow long-distance operations to resume.

He says in a meeting with the transport minister two weeks ago they raised how they could introduce these two issues with safety measures.

We said we are more than happy to accept conditions set by the Command Council.

Thabisho Molelekwa, Spokesperson - Santaco

He says Santaco made it clear it is willing to comply with government's differentiated approach in terms of provinces with different rates of infection.

But at least get that moving.

Thabisho Molelekwa, Spokesperson - Santaco

However, since that meeting two weeks ago, Molelekwa says the transport minister has postponed their meeting multiple times due to the Command Council meeting being postponed.

Most recently Santaco's meeting was moved from Friday to Saturday to Sunday, and finally to Monday, adds Molelekwa.

It seems clear that the minister is not willing to meet with the industry. If it was due to the Command Council then he could have said that. The minister postpones without reason...he says postpone, postpone, postpone and he does not give reasons.

Thabisho Molelekwa, Spokesperson - Santaco

He responds to claims that taxis have been carrying a full load right from the start of lockdown and that many say the sanitation measures have not been in place.

How much percentage of that is happening? And I can tell you that it is not even 15%.

Thabisho Molelekwa, Spokesperson - Santaco

He says they have had some complaints of this from commuters, particularly in Gauteng.

If this is the case, we regret this. We should have acted in the appropriate way.

Thabisho Molelekwa, Spokesperson - Santaco

He says lockdown has impacted the revenue of the industry because at the start it was operating with about 15% of its total fleet.

At the start, you had at least 200,000 taxis that were still at the stands. When the regulations were then relaxed you had about 50% of the industry that was operating - and now you have 100%.

Thabisho Molelekwa, Spokesperson - Santaco

But, he says, the problem is taxis are doing far fewer trips in total, and that is the crisis the industry is facing in terms of revenue.

He acknowledges there is no way government can help recover that money for the taxi industry.

But just assist us to go through the six months, because if you don't do that 45% of taxi operators will lose their vehicles to repossession.

Thabisho Molelekwa, Spokesperson - Santaco

Listen to the interview below:


29 June 2020 9:34 AM

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