/ 18 November 2022

Planned two-day Western Cape taxi strike could cost R9 million a day

July 27 2021 Rows Of Cata Taxis Parked At The Langa Taxi Rank On Tuesday Afternoon After Ongoing Violence Between Warring Taxi Associations Over Lucrative Commuter Routes Has Resulted In At Least Twenty Six People Being Killed. Cape Town. Photo By David

The South African National Taxi Council’s (Santaco) looming shutdown of minibus taxi services in the Western Cape could cost the taxi industry about R9 million a day.  

Santaco announced a “provincial stayaway” for its nearly 15 000 taxis on Monday and Tuesday in protest against the provincial government’s announcement that the Blue Dot taxi pilot programme would cease operations at the end of this month. 

The R250 million programme between the Western Cape government and the local minibus taxi industry aimed to formalise the sector and improve service quality. A total of 800 taxis participated in the scheme, in which they received Blue Dot status by fulfilling requirements for vehicle branding, tax compliance and driver training.

In addition to the R9 million daily loss for the industry, drivers stood to lose R2 million, Santaco provincial chairperson Mandla Hermanus told the Mail & Guardian.

“Given the informal nature of our industry, this was a major achievement in and of itself,” he said of the Blue Dot scheme, which the Western Cape government said would come to an end on 30 November due to a lack of funding. 

After a meeting with Santaco on Thursday, Western Cape member of the executive council (MEC) for mobility Daylin Mitchell said he was also disappointed that Blue Dot could not continue beyond the pilot phase “given how beneficial it has been for passengers”.

Mitchell has called on the national government to take over and fund the project on a national scale. On Thursday evening, he said in a statement he was doing “everything in my power” to ensure that the scheme continued.

During Thursday’s meeting, Mitchell urged Santaco to call off next week’s planned shutdown, saying it would have “a devastating effect on many aspects of the Western Cape and cannot be condoned”.

Minibus taxis account for 75% of all public transport trips in the province and are the primary means of commuting for 2 million people. 

“Given the serious economic challenges we face as a province and as a nation, we cannot afford for the industry to cease operations, even for a day. This is particularly important at a time when grade 12 learners are writing their exams, which simply should not be disrupted,” Mitchell said.

Hermanus told the M&G the strike could be called off if the local government engaged with the industry.

“Every effort should be made to support our industry to become better, safer and to formalise our industry and improve the quality of service we provide,” he said, adding that while Mitchell seemed keen for the project to continue, he believed the MEC did not have the support of his colleagues, including at the provincial treasury.

“The reality for our industry, yet again, is that our role as a vital contributor to the public transport sector is not as firmly recognised as it should be. This decision, unfortunately, will result in the minibus industry and government being placed in opposite camps again,” said Hermanus.