Minister slams miniskirt incident as ‘barbaric act’

The assault of a woman at a taxi rank for wearing a miniskirt indicates just how necessary it is for the taxi industry to transform, Transport Minister Jeff Radebe said on Friday.

”Unfortunately, this very sad incident has reinforced the view that taxi drivers are a law unto themselves,” said Radebe at the African National Congress KwaZulu-Natal provincial transport indaba (meeting) in Durban.

”We must all work together to confront this … after all these are our brothers, fathers, husbands, mothers, sisters and wives who are operators in the taxi industry.”

Radebe said ”barbaric acts” like the miniskirt incident should be condemned without reservation.

”Police [are] to leave no stone unturned to bring the perpetrators to book.”

Radebe said increasing security at public transport terminals could not be done without the cooperation of the operators — in this case, ”the actual culprits”.

Radebe said the taxi industry was an integral part of transforming the public transport system.

”Its transformation will have a very significant impact on the structure of the taxi industry, associations governing the industry and the operational areas and corridors served by the minibus-taxis.”

Radebe said the government’s taxi recapitalisation programme (TRP) would ensure public transport was comfortable, reliable and safe.

Radebe said since the TRP launched in October 2006, over 13 000 old taxi vehicles had been scrapped and 23 000 operators had applied for scrapping.

R668-million had been paid out as a scrapping allowance to qualifying operators.

”We are confident that scrapping figures will increase as the scrapping process gains momentum.”

Radebe said taxi violence could be quelled by the ongoing conversion of radius permits to route-based operating licences.

When operators were confined to specific routes, route encroachment should be lessened.

The Transport Department also planned to transform minibus-taxi type services into contracted scheduled services.

”This will provide the opportunity for many taxi operators to move from being a member of an association operating a taxi-type service into one of being a bus operator within a formal company structure.” — Sapa

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