Gauteng government, taxi industry sign historic agreement

Image: Gallo Images/Foto24/Lulama Zenzile

Gauteng provincial government has concluded an agreement with the taxi industry which is aimed at ending violence and modernising its operations.

The agreement was signed with the Gauteng South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the Gauteng National Taxi Alliance (NTA) in what the provincial department of transport described as “historic”.

In the agreement, the two structures committed themselves to intensify efforts to build a smart taxi industry that is gun-free, successful, broad-based, and an exemplary business model for black economic empowerment. They further agreed that transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo be mandated to act decisively against taxi associations riddled with internal rifts, fights and other forms of instability that pose an immediate threat to life and limb of members and the commuting public.

Under the agreement, Mamabolo will have the powers to dissolve the leadership of associations and their immediate placement under temporary administration, until order is restored. In the deal signed on Monday, taxi bosses agreed that Mamabolo must investigate modern and transparent fare collection systems for implementation by the various taxi associations in a manner that will promote accountability and savings of resources.

Taxi bosses affirmed in the agreement that an immediate end to taxi violence is a precondition for the transformation and mordernisation of the taxi industry in the province.

It is an important step towards bringing stability in the taxi industry

“This agreement has not been imposed on the operators, it is however a result of the resolutions of the Taxi Summit held in Sedibeng last year. It is an important step towards bringing stability in the taxi industry. We commend the taxi industry for confronting the two threats facing their sector, namely, the handling of money which borders on money laundering and internal rifts, tensions and unhealthy leadership contestation within some taxi associations. We believe this agreement will go a long way in addressing taxi violence,” said Mamabolo.

Violence has been a problem in the taxi industry for decades with no solution found. Just before the lockdown began, Justice Jeremiah Shongwe had begun listening to evidence in a commission set up by provincial government to investigate taxi violence.

Furthermore, taxi bosses in Gauteng have given both provincial and national government serious problems over the past two months with their conduct. They threatened to increase taxi fares by over 100%, arguing that they incurred too many losses during the national lockdown.

Mamabolo held urgent meetings with the industry to try and persuade them to reconsider their decision. When that was done, the sector embarked on a national open defiance stance, loading combis at full capacity and resuming inter-provincial travel without permission from the State.

This month, the North Gauteng High Court granted Mamabolo an order dissolving the Mamelodi Amalgamated Taxi Association (Mata) executive committee, following a spate of violence, unrest and instability in the township. Mamabolo approached the court after taxi violence in the area claimed 19 lives.

In an unprecedented move, Mamabolo appointed Hettie Groenewald as the administrator of the taxi association with immediate effect.

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