Motor industry supports taxi plan, 'despite driving habits'

Vehicle-distribution group McCarthy’s chief executive, Brand Pretorius, says the South African motor industry remains fully committed to the government’s taxi-recapitalisation programme and will do whatever is required to ensure its success.

Pretorius was giving a motor-industry perspective on the topic at the Public Transport Expo and Conference on Thursday.

“The taxi recap’s success would depend on the enthusiastic participation of all stakeholders. It should deliver tangible benefits to all parties,” said Pretorius.

“It is a reality that government’s vision of ensuring the successful hosting of the 2010 Soccer World Cup will depend largely on the state of readiness of South Africa’s public-transport infrastructure.”

Pretorius added that it is a fact that the South African taxi industry is an outstanding example of entrepreneurship and small-business development.

“Although we don’t always appreciate their driving habits, we must acknowledge that the taxi industry plays an extremely important role from a social, economic and business perspective. For that reason, it is imperative that the country should have a viable, well-organised and effective taxi industry.”

He noted that the government realised this some time ago and announced its intention to restructure and recapitalise the industry back in 1999.

This process finally came to realisation earlier this month when the taxi-recapitalisation programme’s vehicle-operation, safety and technical requirements were announced in the Government Gazette.

Through the taxi-recapitalisation programme, the government intends to remove old and unroadworthy vehicles from the roads through the orderly scrapping of existing vehicles over a five- to seven-year period and the introduction of safe nine- to 35-seater vehicles.

The payment of a scrapping allowance of R50 000 to taxi operators handing in their vehicles will take place after a verification process has been completed.

This will cost the government an estimated R7,7-billion.

“The intention is to reduce the number of taxis to less than 100 000. In addition, the programme will lead to the effective regulation of the taxi industry in order to put an end to ‘overtrading’, which often tends to result in violence and disruption,” said Pretorius.

“Government is also determined to ensure more effective law enforcement in respect of public transport. An amount of R2,5-billion has been set aside over the next five years to increase government’s ability to enforce laws in the industry.”

However, Pretorius said, there are still some grey areas regarding the vehicle-scrapping policy and procedures, which he is confident the Department of Transport will address earnestly.

“In general, the motor industry is fully supportive of the requirements and would like to commend the Department of Transport on their pragmatic and balanced approach,” he concluded.—I-Net Bridge

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