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Short-changed taxi drivers ENRAGED

By unknown | Jun 23, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

The card-for-payment system on the Johannesburg-Pretoria route has left taxi drivers fuming - they went on a two-day strike last week.

Drivers say the system prevents them from making extra cash for themselves.

"We used to run extra trips and pocket the change after handing over what the owner demanded for the day. Now that is over," a driver said.

At the Bosman Street taxi rank in Pretoria drivers said that, as breadwinners, they were not coping after the card system was implemented for passengers three months ago.

The drivers said they could make extra money when handling the cash themselves, but were now at the mercy of their bosses.

Lucas Mokabane, who has been driving taxis for the past 20 years, said he had thought things would change for the better with the new card system for commuters.

"I have been making money all these years but have nothing to show for it today. I am a worker but the Department of Labour does not know me at all.

"We work long hours and end up with nothing to show for it when we retire," said Mokabane.

On Thursday and Friday, during the strike, the card office was closed so the taxi associations hired buses to ferry passengers and for two days cash was again king.

Drivers resumed work on Saturday and the card offices were open and cards were again being sold.

Commuters on the Johannesburg-Pretoria route buy a boarding card for R25. It is scanned by a machine in the taxi when a passenger hands the card to a queue marshal. The number of loads per taxi, mostly 23-seater buses, are captured digitally on the system. The drivers receive R500 a week.

Mokabane said he could "look after himself" with the extra cash but sent his R500 salary home to his family.

"We want R1500 a week, paid time off, and to be registered with the Department of Labour," said Jackson Mathebula, a queue marshal at the Pretoria rank.

Mathebula said the drivers were promised R1050 for the time-being at a meeting on Friday between drivers from Pretoria and Johannesburg and the owners.

Paul Ramme, a taxi owner who operates two buses from Pretoria, said that the card system was efficient.

"I now get enough money to pay the vehicle instalments and maintain the two buses because everything is formalised. The rest of the money pays for petrol. The card system is organised and works well for me," said Ramme.

Ramme would not say how much he had made before the card system was implemented.

When Sowetan talked to drivers at the Bosman and Noord street taxi ranks, it emerged that some employers pay drivers between R500 and R1000 a week, depending on the agreement.

South African National Taxi Council spokesman, Phillip Taaibosch, said his organisation would meet with representatives today.

"I knew about the strike.

"We will look into the matter and talk to everyone about the issue," Taaibosch said.


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