Limpopo taxis to get state subsidies

THE Limpopo government will now work closer with the taxi industry - allowing taxi operators to have shares in state subsidy programmes.

MEC for roads and transport Pinkie Kekana, who is also chairperson of the province's economic cluster, said yesterday the move was part of the government's approach to Integrated Public Transport Networks Subsidies (IPTNS).

At present only rail and bus operators are eligible for government subsidies.

Kekana said R50million had been set aside for the implementation of the programme that sought to unlock economic opportunities for taxi owners.

She said Sekhukhune was identified as the primary district to implement the programme this financial year since it was the most affected by poverty.

According to Kekana there were at present only a few bus operators benefiting from the current system in the province.

"Taxis do not benefit from the programme at the moment," she said.

"The department has embarked on the design of an integrated public transport network and once completed it will be rolled out to all districts over the next three years."

The assimilation, according to the government, will require an estimated R2,5billion over the next three years.

"If the majority of commuters uses taxis it would not make sense not to subsidise them," she said.

The province has 1314 taxi vehicles with 1446 drivers.

"And 99612 passengers' trips at a cost of R441million a year and the taxi industry, carrying almost 65percent, will soon benefit from the programme," she said.

Taxi associations in the province have welcomed the announcement.

The IPTNS is also expected to add an alternative transport mode, with plans to construct passenger rail in areas such as Mokopane and from Mankweng to Polokwane, the province's capital.