National command council to decide on taxi industry's decision to defy lockdown

05 July 2020 - 18:10
By Penwell Dlamini
Taxi rank
Image: Gallo Images/Foto24/Lulama Zenzile Taxi rank

The fate of the taxi industry and their call for operating at full load now rests entirely with the National Covid-19 Command Council (NCCC).

The taxi industry requested transport minister Mbalula to allow interprovincial travel and also for the sector to operate their vehicles at 100% capacity. Taxis are currently only allowed to load  at 70% of the vehicles' capacity.

Mbalula met taxi bosses over the weekend to continue his engagement with the industry following its open defiance stance against the lockdown regulations last week.

On Sunday, Mbalula was expected  to get a decision from the NCCC on whether it grants the taxi industry what it has been requesting or not.

In his previous statements, Mbalula has indicated that he agrees with taxi bosses on their two requests but said the final decision would be with the NCCC.

Mbalula’s spokesperson Ayanda-Allie Paine declined to speak on the issue on Sunday. “I am not at liberty to comment on anything until the national command council makes a decision. That is all I can say for now,” she said.

On June 29, taxi bosses from the South African National Taxi Council and the National Taxi Alliance announced that they would resume operating at full load and also start interprovincial travel.

The open defiance stance shocked the country and forced Mbalula to call the industry back to the table to negotiate. Mbalula has been engaged in marathon negotiations with the industry as they complained that they are losing business due to the national lockdown regulations.

He has since announced a R1.13bn relief for the taxi industry which included cabs and e-hailing services and the minibus sector was not pleased with it. 

Minibus taxi bosses were demanding R20,000 per taxi but  Mbalula was clear that there would be no additional money available.

When taxi bosses realised that Mbalula would not budge, they then announced that they would start operating at full capacity.

Since the beginning of the open defiance on June 29, the sector has not retreated back to comply with the regulations. Meanwhile, a number of taxi associations in Gauteng have started warning their commuters of the coming fare increases later this month. 

Taxi associations under Santaco Gauteng were given a thumbs-up to raise fares by up to R5 within municipal boundaries and R7 between metros.