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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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Bad blood between operators stalls government's national fleet recapitalisation programme

By unknown | Feb 01, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

The national recapitalisation programme is in jeopardy as the war between rival taxi bodies and the government rages on.

The programme, launched in October, aims to remove old minibus taxis from the roads. The plan will be implemented over seven years at a cost of R7,7 billion.

It is a result of years of negotiations between the taxi industry, vehicle manufacturers and the government.

The government called for a unified body to represent all taxi operators and guard their interests.

This was to be formed at a national taxi indaba in Durban in September 2001.

The South African Taxi Council (Santaco), the Provincial Taxi Councils (Protacos) and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) were to merge into one umbrella body.

Though the conference gave birth to the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), the only taxi body recognised by the government, it also resulted in a dispute that threatens the country's taxi industry and has yet to be resolved.

The Transport Department has failed to respond to questions by Sowetan about the Santaco and NTA dispute.

At the centre of the row is the NTA, which claims that the premise that Santaco was formed to resolve the dispute was flawed and biased.

The alliance's general secretary, Alpheus Mlalazi, said: "We thought a taxi regulatory body would be formed.

"When we realised that what was being formed was an operational body that would eventually swallow the NTA, we distanced ourselves,"

He claimed that Santaco and Protacos were "government preferred" and that the NTA "never stood a chance".

The NTA said in a letter of grievance sent to Transport Minister Jeff Radebe: "The government interfered with the choosing and funding of delegates who would attend the conference, and with the voting process by way of lobbying support for their preferred delegates.

"This resulted in the NTA being represented by only 34 delegates at a conference comprising more than 1 000, and its members were only accorded observer status in the election and the alliance's eventual withdrawal from the conference," said the NTA letter.

Phillip Taaibosch, general secretary of Santaco, disputed the NTA's claims.

He said: "The NTA had a democratic right to say it had changed its stance and had decided to pull out.

"The NTA had 180 days to dispute the election results, but it never did.

"It fully participated in the formation of Santaco and is therefore part of it," said Taaibosch.

Taaibosch said NTA chairman, Sicelo Mabaso, chaired the committee that drafted Santaco's constitution.

The NTA has claimed its independence from Santaco.


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