THE SOUTH AFRICAN Defence Force were in full alert at the Johannesburg taxi rank this morning, following protests yesterday by taxi industry.
This follows violent incidents by taxi operators who had blockaded roads in Pretoria, demanding Covid-19 relief funds from government, who demand R1.13bn.
But the minister of transport Fikile Mbalula is not budging. In April the minister announced that taxis would operate at full capacity but then changed his mind a day later, reducing capacity to 70%.
Chairperson of South African National Taxi Ass (Santaco) in Gauteng, Johannes Mkhonza, confirmed the strike was only for a day and what happens next would be determined by the talks on Wednesday with all stakeholders.
Taxi bosses are unhappy that the money will be shared with e-hailing services and metered taxis complaining that the R5,000 per taxi was not enough. They demanded R20,000 per taxi instead.
“Tomorrow (today), things will go back to normal. We will wait for the minister of transport to give us feedback on the issues such as operating at 100% capacity and the reopening of inter-provincial travel. We can only make a decision after receiving that feedback,” said Mkhonza.
“The bigger issue to resolve, which is long overdue, is the subsidisation of the taxi industry. Subsidy cannot come without formalisation and formalisation will come with conditionality. Formalisation will benefit us in the long-term to make the industry professionalised.
“It is 26 years of freedom, the taxi industry has been giving us R40bn back into the economy but they don’t see the value of it. They still run an informal industry with workers not registered,” Mbalula said.
Depending on Wednesday talks, there could be a national strike.
Image (Transport minister Fikile Mbalula at loggerheads with taxi bosses).