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‘Its a stay-away, not a strike’- WC SANTACO on empty taxi ranks next week

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SANTACO in the Western Cape has emphasized that members have not been ordered to take to the streets next week.

It comes after stakeholders agreed to shut down taxi ranks on Monday and Tuesday, with commuters urged to make alternative travel arrangements.

SANTACO first deputy chairperson Gershon Geyer told VOC news on Friday that the three core issues include; the extension and expansion of the Blue Dot project, revising of the City of Cape Town’s traffic by-law and increased proper allocation of funding spent to regulate the public transport industry.

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Earlier this month, Western Cape Mobility MEC Daylin Mitchell, expressed grief over having to conclude the provincial Blue Dot project by 30th November 2022, “due to lack of funding.”

In a statement on Thursday, Mitchell noted the success of the 18-month long partnership between provincial government and industry players, which sought to urgently improve public transport in light of “a near-total collapse of the rail system, increased congestion and other challenges.”

According to Mitchell, taxis transport two million passengers every day, and the timing of the action is ‘devastating’ not only for its potential economic impact but also for matriculants who are writing their final exam.

Pointing to the projects successes, Mitchell highlighted that over 800 vehicles were branded and monitored across 150 routes, while over 500 operators and 1 100 drivers underwent training or had compliance facilitated.

Mitchell said that 300k ratings were received and stats retrieved from 400 surveyed passengers revealed 82% felt safer, 78% agreed Blue Dot taxi’s ‘were better’ and 88% agreed that more Blue Dot taxi’s were needed.

Geyer concurred that while there are reckless taxi drivers, the Blue Dot Project was successfully changing driver behaviour and creating safer roads. Stakeholders are of the opinion that the project should be extended and rolled out to the rest of the industry.

“We’ve been asking for a subsidy since 1994. We’ve been promised that there will be financial assistance but up until now threes been no transformation in the taxi industry. In fact, we can say in the transport industry. Everything remains the same,” said Geyer.

According to Geyer, Golden Arrow Bus Services receives a subsidy of R1.2 million monthly, despite only catering to “20%” of public transport commuters. Mitchell said the taxi sector caters to 75% of commuters.

“We have been transporting 80% of commuters without any subsidy or government intervention. On other side, the provincial government says it’s not their problem yet they spend millions on the My Citi bus projects. When it comes to the taxi industry, they say it’s a national responsibility,” said Geyer.

Having forked out millions since September 2020, Mitchell appealed to external parties to help improve the taxi industry both provincially and nationally.

“I will continue to engage with my counterparts at national, provincial and local government, as well as the private sector and other stakeholders to see how we can make this a truly proudly South African initiative,” wrote Mitchell.

“The Western Cape Government invested R215 million to prove that the pilot works and it is now up to others, including national government, to support us and invest resources in the minibus taxi industry, which has been ignored and underfunded for far too long,” he added.

In relation to the City of Cape Town’s Traffic by-law implemented in July 2022, Geyer insisted that officers are trying to “force the industry into submission”. The recently approved legislation gave the City power to, among others, demolish impounded vehicles that are uncollected after three months. the vehicle may also be sold to recover cost of storage.

However, a host of legalities and affairs need to be settled before vehicles can be released from impounds. This authorization if proof of payment of all costs relating to the impoundment, transport and vehicle storage are provided. Motorists are to ensure that licenses of both driver and the vehicle are up to date, warrants and fines paid up in full and the vehicle is road-worthy.


According to Geyer,  the City is working to “force the industry into submission”.  The City’s Safety and Security Direcotrates spokesperson JP Smith had, in September, warned that a no-nonsense approach will be taken against illegal taxi drivers and operators.

Taxi’s operating without permits remains a long standing issue within the province and particularly Cape Town. Smith was responding to public violence and setting alight of busses and private vehicles in Nyanga and surrounds,

“While this harsh action (demolition) may be criticized by some as a “simple money-making scheme,” these critics would do well to remember: if they instead choose to abide by the laws then such vehicles would never stand the risk of being impounded,” Smith said at the time.

Golden Arrow Bus Services confirmed to VOC that no formal statement was released at the time of publishing. Spokesperson Bronwyn Dyke Beyers said however that guidance will be taken from SAPS and law enforcement.

Geyer emphasized that next week’s action is not a strike, but rather a stay-away. He warned however that “there’s always the other element” that uses any opportunity to loot or cause chaos.

“We asked our drivers not to take to the streets (and) to stay at home. We want to show the value that the taxi industry brings. We won’t encourage anybody or any of our members to participate in any other activities.”

Mitchell too, reiterated calls for the industry to desist from the impactful withdrawal of services, and warned that action will be taken against those who break the law.

“While I remain by my commitment to continue talks, keep the dialogue open and actively search  for ways for the Blue Dot programme to continue, I must also say that I will not hesitate to use all  mechanisms to my disposal as Provincial Minister of Mobility to restore calm should the matter escalate. My first priority remains the safety and dignity of the people of the Western Cape.”

“I reiterate my plea to the industry to think of the passenger and call off their planned shutdown so  as not to disadvantage the very people whose lives we are trying to improve through dignified and safe public transport,” he concluded.

Geyer said that if government does not respond, stakeholders will meet again to decide on further action.

Tauhierah Salie Solomon

Photo: VOCfm

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