/ 13 November 2008

Taxi industry ‘under siege’ from govt legislation

The taxi industry is under threat and needs to unite or its businesses will fail, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) said on Thursday.

”Our business is under siege … It is participative strategy planning that we believe is critical in the survival of our business,” Santaco secretary general Philip Taaibosch told the South African Local and Long Distance Taxi and Bus Organisation (SALLDTBO) conference in Pretoria.

Taaibosch said the resuscitation of SALLDTBO showed great promise in addressing the threat to the industry by — among others — the ”monster” National Land Transport Bill, and the Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS).

The government was blind to the effects such legislation would have on the industry, and that it could literally close taxi operations down.

”Government, through its plans, through its agencies, is planning to take the taxi industry away from us.”

Taaibosch questioned government’s rationality that the people on the ground wanted the BRTS.

He asked the gathering of hundreds if they wanted it and was met with a resounding ”no”, repeated three times.

SALLDTBO spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa said the government was wrong in proposing such legislation — and especially without engagement with the industry that would be most negatively affected.

”It is extremely wrong to allow laws created by government to close businesses.”

Molelekwa said the taxi industry had a long and rich history, not only as a business, but also for its role in politics.

He said the industry was not against transformation; however it needed to be constructive through collaboration with its key role players.

He said the Bill would dictate the operations of taxi transportation and that the change from permits to licences would mean that each taxi operator had a lifespan.

”There is no [business] security,” he said, adding that operators would hazard to invest in their business if they thought their licences might expire or not be renewed by government.

SALLDTBO has approximately 30 member associations, which comprises more than 30 000 individual operators.

It was in effect dissolved in 2001. — Sapa