The South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) has declared war against government, vowing that it would from Monday start loading taxis to full capacity and also resume long distance trips, in violation of the National State of Disaster regulations. The taxi council said it is doing this because of the frustration and lack of direction from government. This after it refused the government's R1.1 billion taxi relief fund, saying it is not enough as the industry has lost billions Rand since the start of the national lockdown in March. SANTACO also accused Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, of having failed to honour a meeting with the taxi industry, claiming he postponed four meetings without any reasons.
“As from tomorrow, 29th June, all taxis must load 100% capacity, whether the Minister approves or not. All long distance taxis must resume operations as from tomorrow morning. We are also indicating that no permits will be wanted from passengers who get into the long distance taxis,” said SANTACO president, Phillip Taaibosch, during a virtual media address on Sunday. Taaibosch stressed that all this would however be done in compliance with COVID-19 regulations, which include the wearing of masks in taxis as well as sanitation. He also appealed to taxi operators not to exceed the loading capacity that is required per taxi certificate. The taxi council boss said they’re doing this fully aware that they’re in violation of the national state of disaster laws and would ensure that there is no violence.
“We are aware that law enforcement will want to impound our taxis. Our vehicles have been impounded since day one of the lockdown, with a charge of R500 to release a taxi. We have complained about this wrongful impoundment to the minister and nothing has been done to this day.
Tomorrow we will not accept any form of impoundment. Operators will have no option but to park their taxis countrywide until the impounded taxis are released and we are allowed to continue with our work. If any taxi is impounded, all taxis in South Africa will come to a halt until all taxis are released,” warned Taaibosch. He said the taxi council would only recall the decision if government allowed “100% loading capacity to be maintained, long distance to resume without any interruptions and government to review the R1.1 billion relief fund.”
He lamented the failure of the previous seven ministers of transport in the past 26 years to meet the needs of the taxi industry, adding that “it is now time to face the bull and take it by its horn.” The SANTACO president said they have no choice but to improvise and make sure that the taxi industry does not die, as all the previous ministers failed to subsidise the taxi industry. Meanwhile, attempts to get comment from the Ministry of Transport failed. The National Taxi Alliance, which is the second biggest taxi association in the country, said it would only comment and decide its stance after a meeting of its executive.