A new chapter was written in the history of the taxi industry in the Eastern Cape yesterday when seven old taxis were crushed into small blocks of metal.
The vehicles were crushed by a 20 ton press at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane at the launch of the taxi recapitalisation programme in the province.
Speaking at the launch, the president of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), Jabulani Mthembu, said the programme sought to restore the dignity of black people in South Africa.
He promised that those who had accepted the government's offer of R50000 in exchange for their old taxis, which would be scrapped, would benefit from the programme and that the R50 000 was guaranteed, irrespective of the taxi owner's credit rating.
The offer should be seen, he said, as an informed business decision based on what was best for those in the taxi industry.
"For a long time we have been the victims of ignorance," he said, referring to those in the industry who had resisted the programme.
About 1220 taxis in the province are expected to be scrapped, but Mthembu stressed that they would all be old vehicles.
"We are not scrapping vehicles that can still go to the rank."
Mthembu said Santaco would discuss the issue of a subsidy with the government.
But many taxi drivers were not happy with the deal.
Driver Themba Sompetha urged the government to intercede with taxi owners on the drivers' behalf.
"How can I be happy when my boss decides to fire me and not pay me a cent?" he asked.
"We need benefits like a provident fund and medical aid."