Mangled taxis make way for new

Mvuyo Mati

About 120 taxi operators have been paid R5,9million in compensation after handing over their old minibuses for scrapping.

According to the Eastern Cape Department of Transport, 118 taxi taxi operators had been paid R50000 each as an incentive to hand over their old vehicles.

Since the provincial launch of the taxi recapitalisation programme on December 14, 292 taxis had been brought to the main scrapping site at Zwelitsha near King William's Town.

Another 1226 taxi operators have registered their intention to scrap their minibuses while 120 others have applied to leave the taxi industry.

At least seven old taxis were mangled by a giant 20-ton machine brought from Durban to the province in December.

The launch that took place at Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane last month was attended by South African National Taxi Council president Jabulani Mthembu.

He said the taxi recap programme sought to restore the dignity of black commuters in South Africa.

Provincial transport spokesman Ncedo Kumbaca boasted that the Eastern Cape was ahead of all other provinces.

"The department is very impressed by the overwhelming enthusiasm displayed by the taxi industry in this province.

"We would like to commend those who have responded positively to the government's call for the recapitalisation of the ageing taxi fleet in this country and our province," said Kumbaca.

He stated that his department was determined to accelerate the scrapping process.

Kumbaca said the province had identified five mobile administration sites in Port Elizabeth, Mthatha, Aliwal North, Queenstown and Mount Ayliff which would oversee the scrapping of minibus taxis.

Many taxi drivers said they would take the R50000 and use it as a deposit to buy new taxis.

Contrary to the delight of taxi owners and department officials, some taxi drivers believe the recapitalisation programme has left them in the lurch.

Take Themba Sompetha, 36, the breadwinner in a family of seven.

He believes the recap has brought him misery.

"How can I be happy when my boss can decide to fire me any time and not pay me a cent for my work?" he said.

Sompetha said taxi drivers would not benefit from the recap.

"We need benefits like a provident fund, job guarantees and medical aid. We drive long hours and distances, but it is easy to be fired without any reason."